December 22, 2006

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Jersey Boys National Tour Cast Member Eric Gutman!

December 22nd, 2006

Eric Gutman

Jersey Boys Blog is excited to present an interview with Jersey Boys national cast member Eric Gutman. Eric plays Hank Majewski, in addition to other roles in the show. He is also understudying for the Tommy DeVito and Bob Gaudio roles. Eric talks about how it all began for him; his love of performing from an early age; his passion as a musician; and the amazing time he’s having as a cast member in Jersey Boys national tour.

JBB: Tell us about yourself. What sparked your interest in acting and musical theatre? Who were your early inspirations?

EG: I was always into performing. I remember as early as second grade doing plays at school and constantly singing around the house. For as long as I could remember, I was always musical – singing Motown or Beatles with my Dad in the car, performing with my Temple’s youth group choir…my grandparents bought me my first guitar when I was 9, so I guess it was all downhill from there.

Early inspirations were probably my parents – simply because they were so supportive in everything I wanted to do. My Mom would drive me day after day, week after week to rehearsals for plays in junior high. Also, my mother has a beautiful voice, and my Dad was always the comic, so I drew a lot out of them. Even my grandfather, who is 94 years old, still has an amazing voice. He has been a cantor forever, and up until a few years ago, was still singing 8+ hours in a day for the high holidays.

JBB: You’ve had some interesting roles in Off-Broadway, national tours, and regional productions. What have been some of the most fascinating roles you’ve played? What have been some of your most challenging parts? Any outrageous stories from the stage?

EG: Honestly, my regional and Off-Broadway credits are small–I did Tony & Tina’s Wedding Off-Broadway for a few years, and have been a company member with Forbidden Broadway for seven years, so I consider myself lucky more than anything else. I would say Forbidden was challenging because it changes a lot in NYC – Gerard Alessandrini was always getting new material together for us as new shows opened. Also, touring with them for many years was challenging in the fact that it was true “swat team” theatre. The whole show toured with 7 people (4 cast members, pianist, wardrobe, and stage manager), 9 boxes, and 2 mini-vans. I remember getting done with a show, packing the vans up, driving 4 hours in bad weather to the next city, getting some sleep, and having a new show to do the next evening in a whole different atmosphere. Now imagine doing that for 6 days straight and driving or flying to 5 different cities…exhausting!

And yes – I have some outrageous stories about Tony & Tina’s Wedding – but mostly it was the audience members feeling a little too comfortable with the show not having that “fourth wall”…but those probably need to stay with me so I don’t get anyone in trouble.

JBB: What motivated you to audition for a role in the national tour of Jersey Boys?

EG: At first, when I heard about the audition, I wasn’t sold on it. I mean, it was auditioning in Chicago (5 hour drive from Detroit), and I would have to call in “sick” to work. But then I bought the cast album and I was hooked. I literally listened to it over 20 times straight through before it left my CD players. Something just drew me to the music and the story and I booked that flight to Chicago without even giving a thought to the implications of if my boss found out. Sorry Joel, if you’re reading this.

JBB: In JB, you’re playing Hank Majewski and others. How did you go about preparing for these roles and what do you hope to bring to the role(s) you’ll be playing in Jersey Boys?

EG: At first, my preparation consisted of “where the hell are my costume changes and when do I roll that table on stage”. The transitions are so lighting fast and so specific in this show that the audience doesn’t even realize that the show backstage is probably more intense than the one onstage at times. I guess I am just trying to make every one of my many characters on stage as specific as possible as far as the choices they make. Playing six or seven different roles is more than just what shoes go with this character – it’s about playing the lines and trying to figure out how that small character really helps the scene and the story move along. It also has to do with how much product is in my hair and what side I part it on at the time – haha.

JBB: In addition to the above roles, you’re also understudying for the Bob Gaudio and Tommy DeVito roles. What are the challenges of being an understudy, and in particular, what do you think the challenges will be in playing Gaudio and DeVito?

EG: The main challenges so far to understudying those two roles is, first, the amount of lines/stage time they both have. Tommy and Bob easily have the most lines out of the four, and they certainly move the entire first act along, so you really need to stay focused. Secondly, having enough preparation time where I can feel comfortable on stage with the other actors and for them to know they can trust me 100% in not only telling the story the right way, but also for them to trust that I know where I am going and when so I continue a safe working environment. You would be amazed how many chances there are in the show for someone to get hurt between the fly system, automation, mic lift, etc., everyone has to stay on their mark at all times.

JBB: Jersey Boys is the hottest show on Broadway, and it is off to an equally hot start in San Francisco. What do you think makes the audiences feel so connected to Jersey Boys?

EG: I guess that this isn’t your typical “Broadway musical” in the fact that there is a love story, and a single antagonist of the story, and that quintessential happy ending where birds flutter and everyone yells “Shipoopi”. These were four real people living four real lives. And they were hard lives and sad lives and amazing lives all rolled up in one. Their success becomes our success. Their heartache becomes our heartache. This is a show for the working class in that they can relate and for the upper class in that they can see an amazing night at the theatre. And, with the show being told from four different perspectives, I suppose an audience member can take Tommy’s side while the person sitting next to them can be fully invested in what Nick is talking about.

JBB: What is your favorite scene in Jersey Boys and why?

EG: I love a lot of different scenes for different reasons, but I would say my favorite is the Second Act when I am playing Joe Long (the Season’s replacement bass player). Seeing the audience’s reactions every night when “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” starts is a thrill…every night. Also, I have never had so much fun saying a single word (“HEY!”) every night as Hank.

JBB: How about your favorite Jersey Boys and/or Four Seasons song?

EG: I love the intensity in “Beggin’” and my favorite 2 minutes on stage is rocking downstage with Chris and Miles on “Working’ My Way”. I also think the “Rag Doll” harmonies are my favorite though they are so simple. Just having everyone singing their parts during that exciting moment gets me every night.

JBB: In addition to acting, you’ve been in a number of rock bands for over a decade. What inspired you to be a musician?

EG: I can’t say what exactly inspired me to be a musician – other than my love of music. I have been playing guitar for nearly 20 years now and bass for a little under a decade…and I miss playing in my old bands back from college (Small Craft Sighting) and NYC (Synthetic 16)…All of those guys were great musicians. I have all this great music equipment now in storage back home. Hopefully, when I get back home after the tour, I’ll pick it up again, but I still travel with my acoustic if the itch ever gets to me to write or play. And I can tell you exactly where I was the first time I heard Pearl Jam’s “Ten”…it’s other musicians who inspire me to work harder, I suppose.

JBB: Considering you’ve been in a number of rock bands in the past, how would you compare being a real rock musician with playing one on stage in a hit show?

EG: I will say first and foremost that our band in Jersey Boys is HOT!!!! They are all amazing musicians and I feel so lucky to be playing right next to Miles, Mark and Smitty during the New Seasons stuff in the show. And a HUGE thank you to Brian, Mike, and Josh for helping me so much with my guitar parts. I will say this – “Working My Way” is by far my favorite part in the entire show where I have been given the most freedom to rock out. I also feel very fortunate that I get to play live on stage – not many actors get to do that, and 8 shows/week I am rocking those Fender guitars!

JBB: Your Tour This blog gives readers an amazing inside look into your experiences with Jersey Boys. Why did you decide to start the blog, and what has been the reaction from friends, family, and fans?

EG: You know, I’ll tell you – the blog has been amazing. I really just started it to keep in touch with my family and ever since, I have been getting emails from people all over the country who love this show saying that are keeping up with things through my blog. It has also been a great way to “journal” my experience so I can always remember what it was like on the first day of rehearsal, or the first day I saw the set for the first time, or the day I got to meet Frankie Valli. I guess it’s just my way to help people see this process from the inside out. So I will keep at it – maybe I’ll be lucky and get to turn it into a book one day–who knows?

Once again, Jersey Boys Blog would like to thank Eric Gutman for taking the time for such a fascinating Q&A session!


  1. Fantastic interview!

    Question: Who plays Joe Long in New York?

    Comment by Carson S. — December 22, 2006 @ 3:54 pm

  2. Wow – Really interesting interview! Not only is Eric a really talented guy but he’s humble and generous in his comments about the other actors and musicians. Very cool!

    Comment by JC — December 22, 2006 @ 4:21 pm

  3. Hi Carson,
    Steve Gouveia plays Joe Long on Broadway.

    Comment by Administrator — December 23, 2006 @ 5:54 pm

  4. I enjoyed the interview. As always, Eric acts as our eyes and ears as far as the Tour goes and the behind-the-scenes’ insight & drama. My only question is about your reference to-’when I get back home after the tour…’ Hey, its a big country, Eric and lots of people want to see you in the show now. (Its almost Christmas.. get ready to kick back with chinese and that movie you mentioned.)

    Comment by Audrey — December 24, 2006 @ 10:48 pm

  5. Congratulations Eric! Keep on rockin’…you do Detroit proud!

    Mrs. C

    Comment by Nancy Clervi — December 26, 2006 @ 7:29 pm


    Comment by JENNY — December 26, 2006 @ 9:05 pm

  7. Eric– keep on rocking and rolling! You’ve always been a superstar to us! All the best…cant wait to see you when you get to NYC!!!! Love, Danielle & Pat and kids

    Comment by Danielle Clervi-Ward — December 27, 2006 @ 10:58 am

  8. Eric, I am so proud of you! Your interview was great and I feel privileged to be the mom of a very talented actor and musician! You have always been a “STAR” in my eyes. Keep up the great work. I love you!

    Comment by Eric's mom xxooxx — December 27, 2006 @ 11:06 am

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