August 21, 2007

East Meets West: Jersey Boys Fans Have a ‘Sit-Down’ and More in SF!!

August 21st, 2007

We’re thrilled to present JBB Fantastic Fan Mike Magbaleta’s recap of his family meeting JBB Fantastic Fan Irene Eizen and her family in San Francisco to see Jersey Boys!

The evening started with my son and I in front of the Curran Theatre as usual, waiting to see our friends, Craig Laurie (Bob Crewe), Rashad Naylor (multi-character extraordinaire) and John Michael Coppola (Swing). We saw Craig and Rashad first, walking up the street with Carla Renata (Avenue Q‘s “Gary Coleman”), who is a great stage actress as well and was rushing to the Orpheum Theatre for her performance in Avenue Q. After chatting with Craig and Rashad, John Michael Coppola walked by, introduced us to his wife and told her our family are their “biggest fans” in SF and always acknowledged our support for the play with his thanks. It is definitely great being on a first name basis with Jersey Boys cast members, which is something that I discussed with Irene in the theatre while talking about the OBC cast.

At exactly 7:30, we saw Irene, her granddaughter JBB Fantastic Fan Samantha Roberts, Irene’s daughter, Jennifer, and her husband, Buz. After greeting each other and chatting about their trip to SF, we headed into the theatre and sat at 5th row Orchestra, which were probably the best seats I’ve sat in at the Curran and we were totally up close to all of the action! The show was extremely entertaining from that vantage point because of it’s proximity to the actors! During intermission, I learned about small differences in how the OBC cast performs as well as discussing how the Chicago cast does a lot of improv within the play, whether it be in their mannerisms or spoken parts.

We laughed during lots of Jeremy Kushnier’s parts because of his ability to make people think and laugh during serious moments, all the while joking with a deadpan expression on his face and a Rodney Dangerfield “No Respect” attitude to go with it. We all had to agree that Jarrod Spector’s talent is just unbelieveable and that his comparison to John Lloyd Young and Frankie Valli are just too close to call. Irene and I just love Jarrod in the lead role! Irene also showed me a photo of her with John Lloyd Young during the recent BC/EFA benefit concert at the Schubert Alley. I enjoyed her story when she and Buz invited JLY to dinner and they ended up having a Tony Award-winning dinner guest!

I’m not really sure if Irene caught this, but right after Bob Crewe’s famous line of “Just Play That F***ing Song Already!!!!!”, Jarrod looked straight down at us with a look like “this song’s for you….,” then belted out “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and brought the house down with thunderous applause afterwards! During “Who Loves You” and the “December, 1963″ reprise to end the show, Craig Laurie, who is Howard Tucker’s bud from Staten Island, pointed us out and waved to us during the “audience participation dance”, which I enjoy calling the finale.

At the stage door after we left the theatre, we met up with my wife Lydia and son Christopher at the usual spot and waited for the actors to show up. Irene was anticipating meeting Jarrod Spector, due to being from the same area in PA, and also meeting Craig Laurie, after hearing so much about him from Howard Tucker. Irene’s granddaughter, Samantha still has that soft spot in her heart for John Lloyd Young and the OBC, but loved the experience watching and meeting the Chicago cast. Also was an added bonus by finally meeting Michael Ingersoll, who e-mailed me about the Curran Stage Door when he toured with the “Sherry Cast.” Michael and Irene discussed Howard Tucker and his past LA gig with Chris Jones, Deven and Erich. We took a few photos, but probably Irene took more because it was her first time meeting this specific cast.

All in all, this was the best performance that I’ve ever attended because our new friends share the same love of Jersey Boys that we do! There are so many people that my family and I have to thank for that “historic” evening! First of all, our East Coast “Fantastic Fan” counterparts, Irene Eizen, and Samantha Roberts, as well as a birthday wish to Irene’s husband Buz, for whom the SF trip was for. Also, many thanks to Howard Tucker for his suggestion to Irene about the meeting, otherwise it would have never materalized….. The two people that live in my favorite vacation city in the US (Las Vegas, NV), Susie and Dale, who work their magic with this blog day in and day out, are the catalysts for all of these great fan meetings! Without you guys, we would not have this forum to discuss our favorite play and network with other fans from across the World! Thanks to you and the Jersey Boys Blog!!!!!


  1. What a fantastic story! Hope to meet you some day Mike! Planning to meet Irene sometime soon in NYC, can’t wait for that to happen. I just know the show and the cast are wonderful, but like Samantha, my heart belongs to the OBC………what can I say? Thanks for all your coverage and all your great input on the JB blog! You’re terrific!

    Comment by JBJN54 — August 22, 2007 @ 7:41 am

  2. Awesome story, Mike! I really wish I could’ve joined you two, it seems like it was quite a night! Loved that Craig and Jarrod acknowledged you from the stage. Hopefully, I’ll get to meet with you again before our brillant cast leaves SF. I hope to meet Irene one day too.

    Comment by Lauren — August 22, 2007 @ 11:27 am

  3. Oh me oh me oh my oh – loved our time together in San Francisco.
    That day the sun did shine down on “we.”

    It was a fantastic evening! Seeing the JB SF performance, meeting Mike and his family, watching the performance with Mike, one of his sons and Buz – that was the best. Yes, Mike, I did see Jarrod look straight at us amd I froze. Other people sitting near us let our a faint scream but I FROZE. I “couldn’t take” my eyes off of Jarrod.

    Your article is fabulous and I have so happy to have you as my new friend! Can’t wait to see you again! And, I have no doubt, my hand to G-D, it will be soon!

    Thank you, Mike. Best to your family! IE

    Comment by irene eizen — August 22, 2007 @ 12:54 pm

  4. Thanks so much for the kind words, Mike and Irene. I’ve been in flight all day and, ergo, separated from the Blog until just now. It’s a great story and I’ve read and re-read it several times in the last few minutes.

    You write so well, Mike, I sense some competition here when Susie and Dale present the 2007 Bloggies. And the 2007 entry for best written Bloggie goes to….. (Sammy is already odds-on for the Blog’s most photogenic!!)

    The pictures are marvelous and everyone–including the actors–look incredibly happy. (I’ve taken one or two with celebrities who clearly look as if they’d rather be elsewhere.) And it’s great you both got to speak with Michael and Craig, who are two of the nicest human beings alive. I’ve never met Jarrod, but he is already tops in my book, first, for living in Irene’s “old neighborhood”, and secondly, for acknowledging you at the beginning of CTMEOY. I think that feeling is a thrill for any of us.

    Finally, best wishes to Buz on a wonderful milestone birthday; I do hope he’s taken the time to look back upon all he’s accomplished, culminating with his “Man of the Year” award this past May. Kudos to Irene for pulling off this wonderful surprise trip for a wonderful man.

    Comment by Howard Tucker — August 23, 2007 @ 12:02 am

  5. Thanks for the kind words, and I truly hope to meet with you, Howard and JBJN54! Even though I’ve been in contact with all members of the OBC and they’ve acknowledged me and all fans around the world, I know that even if they don’t remain with the Jersey Boys due to other commitments, we can always maintain out friendships with them if they pursue other “jobs”. I watched all three casts closely and even if their appearances are different, they entertain us with the same intensity and professionalism that we have grown to love.

    Even more special is sharing that experience with fans that also know them deeper than “actors on a stage” and that know everything about the play, so that we learn from them, as I do from Irene and Howard.

    Once the “long term” venues are set, that will give us more opportunities to build on this “family” here on the Jersey Boys Blog and our network will surely grow. Broadway, Las Vegas and hopefully a permanent venue in the Midwest will allow us to reach out to the various casts, as well as the newfound friendships that we are building here!

    I predict more and more geographically based Fantastic Fan meetings in the future, and I’m itching to hear details and see pictures! Thanks!

    Comment by Mike B. Magbaleta — August 23, 2007 @ 12:50 pm

  6. Sounds like a great time was had by all.

    On the topic of “East Meets West,” the recording that is – I hadn’t listened to it probably since I bought the 45 rpm record so it was great to hear it on the Jersey Beat CD. Actually, it is a pretty good song and if you listen carefully you hear some interesting, almost prophetic, words in the song with a relationship to Jersey Boys:

    “From the nights in Hollywood, to the lights on BROADWAY”

    “Riding down the Jersey Shore, riding round LA JOLLA”

    Comment by David Cace — August 23, 2007 @ 2:38 pm

  7. Thanks David! That reminds me to listen to my Jersey Beat CD more often. It’s so chock full of hits from the very early days that I can’t keep up with the playlist. Is’nt that the hit the Four Seasons collaborated on with The Beach Boys?

    Do you know which record that has “Sherry” as part of the title is? I saw part of the album cover on the CBS Sunday Morning show about the Four Seasons/Jersey Boys, and the 1st song on it was “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”….., which was “sung” by Bob Crewe on the Ovation Channel show last month.

    Please let me know if you’re familiar with it and if it’s available on CD. Thanks!

    Comment by Mike B. Magbaleta — August 23, 2007 @ 5:24 pm

  8. Mike

    Yes “East Meets West” was the song done with the Beach Boys.

    “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” is on the 4 Seasons first album with the really inventive title of “Sherry and 11 Others.” I think that is what you are referring to. It is a black album with the boys pictured in a circle on the cover with red stripped shirts.

    I didn’t get to see this program you refer to that had Bob Crewe on and singing “ICGYABL.” On the “Sherry” album Frankie sings it in a high pitched style imitating legendary jazz singer Rose Murphy, which is not like it is done in Jersey Boys. Did Bob Crewe sing it Rose Murphy style or as depicted in Jersey Boys?

    If that is not what you are referring to the only song, not album, that I am aware of that has “Sherry” in its title is the response song to “Sherry” called “Jerry, I’m Your Sherry.” It’s actually quite comical, although I doubt it was intended to be.

    Comment by David Cace — August 23, 2007 @ 5:44 pm

  9. Hi David,
    Bob Crewe sang the Nellie Letcher version, which he described as the one that features the type of falsetto that Frankie sings with.

    Bob Crewe “almost” hit it as good as John Lloyd Young or Jarrod Spector when he sang it though….. I didn’t know that he had it in him! His take on that song during the show on Ovation was that Frankie was bored one night, so he wanted to sing something and that “ICGYABL” really highlighted his falsetto. Tommy DeVito, Nick DeVito and Nick Massi knew they were on to something after hearing Frankie sing that song.

    That’s how they probably wrote the 1st scene of Jersey Boys after “Ces Soiree La”.

    Comment by Mike B. Magbaleta — August 23, 2007 @ 6:47 pm

  10. Mike

    What you are describing is pretty much my understanding as well, with one exception. Bob Crewe has made the same mistake I have heard others make in the female jazz singers that Frankie had as his early influences. Rose Murphy is the Chee Chee girl who sang all her songs in the high pitched voice including “ICGYABL.” Nellie Lutcher is the jazz singer from whom Frankie took “My Mother’s Eyes” which is also in the play. Actually Ms. Lutcher was quite a “legitimate” singer who could do jazz, R&B, and traditional mainstream music. Her version of “My Mother’s Eyes” is quite traditional and done in a regular key, not the Rose Murphy key that only Frankie could do. I talked about Rose Murphy in comments attached to the March 15, 2007 JB Blog entry regarding the “Sherry and 11 Others” album that Susie highlighted.

    Actually it is the Rose Murphy influence that was Frankie’s inspiration for “I’m in The Mood For Love/Moody’s Mood For Love” that is used in the play but in a more legitimate way than the way Frankie used to do it on stage. Bob Gaudio said in an interview that Moody’s Mood For Love had a male and a female part in it and Frankie would do both on stage fooling around. Bob Gaudio said that is when he first heard Frankie’s full falsetto and that was his inspiration for “Sherry.” That and Bruce Channel’s “Hey Baby.”

    Mike, if you are interested in the background for the first act read Rex Woodard’s 1982 article in Goldmine magazine. That article and others can be found on Frank Rovello’s fabulous GILG web site.

    Comment by David Cace — August 23, 2007 @ 7:15 pm

  11. Hi David,
    The GILG website was something I’ve checked out in the past, but am glad that you reminded me about it. After reading some of the past articles about the Four Lovers/Seasons, it seems like most of the early ones are written narrations of what goes on during the play.

    Even though I’ve watched the newer Four Seasons perform in the SF area when I was growing up in the 70′s, after watching Jersey Boys and reading through the book insert in “Jersey Beat”, it’s great learning more and more about the group other than just what is witnessed onstage during the play.

    The GILG website sure is “The” source for the real life history of the Four Seasons and info that digs deeper into their lives and how the stories behind the music. The website is a “Must” for everyone that loves both the Four Seasons and the Jersey Boys!

    Thanks again! GILG sure provided me with info on their discography and a huge window into their past!

    Comment by Mike B. Magbaleta — August 24, 2007 @ 1:45 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. | TrackBack URI

Please leave a comment