July 1, 2010

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Nathan Scherich!

July 1st, 2010

By Frances Fong-Lee, Jersey Boys Blog Special Correspondent

I had the privilege to interview one of my favorite Jersey Boys cast members recently:the consummate actor and singer, Nathan Scherich, who’s a swing cast member with the Jersey Boys National Tour. This man is truly talented – with his outstanding acting and the vocal capabilities to go from a falsetto all the way down to a bass tone! Nathan shares some marvelous stories about how and when he became interested in theatre; the Jersey Boys audition process; his favorites from the show; his amazing experiences as a swing and understudy in the Jersey Boys National Tour cast, and many other surprises!”

Frances Fong-Lee: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me, Nathan. How does it feel to be part of the award-winning, critically and viewer-acclaimed hit show Jersey Boys?

Nathan Scherich: It’s a unique occurrence in the life of a performer to be in a show of this caliber and I feel very fortunate to have been a part of it for so long. Knowing that we’re giving the audience such an amazing experience every night makes me proud to be a part of it all. Jersey Boys has been a life-changing event for me.

FFL: I noticed that you graduated with a degree in Mathematics! Quite the departure from theatre! When did you decide that you wanted to be involved in theatre?

NS: I was involved with theater all through high school and college. I went to Vanderbilt for its strong pre-med program and decided to major in math because I had credits in it when I started school. I was active in the theater department and studied voice privately at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music. But it wasn’t until close to graduation time that I decided I would try to pursue acting professionally.

FFL: How did you get started in show biz?

NS: Professionally I started my career in Nashville at a small dinner theater and worked my way across the country from little theater to little theater and then moved to NY with my now wife, Allie. We joined the Actors union and worked at great theaters, hoping for a big break in a show like Jersey Boys.

FFL: I also noticed that you played Tony in the 50th Anniversary tour of West Side Story prior to Jersey Boys. What was that experience like? Did portraying Tony help you prepare for your Jersey Boys audition?

NS: Playing Tony in that tour was my biggest credit up to that point. It was a summer time tour that played 3 amazing venues in Kansas City, Atlanta, and Washington, DC. It was a hugely talented cast and was directed by Alan Johnson who was in the original production of WSS on Broadway. One of our ex-Jersey girls, Sarah Darling, played Maria on that tour so it was really fun to get to do Jersey Boys together after playing Tony and Maria on that tour.

I think one can learn a lot from every job, big or small. Playing that role of Tony on the tour helped me grow as a performer and although the two shows are very different, I think there was some growth in my confidence that eventually led to me getting cast in Jersey Boys.

FFL: What led you to audition for Jersey Boys? Tell us about the audition process.

NS: I was led to audition for Jersey Boys because I had been told that it was a show that I might fit well in. And after seeing the show, I agreed! I had a fairly lengthy audition process that included multiple rounds of singing, dancing, acting, and guitar playing. I garnered approval from the creative team and finally a track came open on the tour that I was the right fit for, and I got the call!

FFL: Were you familiar with the Four Seasons music prior to being in “Jersey Boys”? Either their heyday in the 1960s, or their resurgence in the 1970s?

NS: I think that the Four Seasons music is almost a vernacular of this country. Prior to seeing the show, I probably couldn’t have told you all these hit songs were Four Seasons’ songs, but I definitely knew the songs well.

FFL: Since you’re part of the Jersey Boys National Tour Company, how do you deal with the transient lifestyle of constantly being in a new city and new environment? Does that suit you?

NS: Well, there are certainly challenges to being on the road full time, but I have been surrounded by such amazing people in this company that make this transient lifestyle livable. Life on the road does suit me well actually. I love seeing new cities and catching up with old friends who are scattered all over this great country.

FFL: As a swing, you are covering for so many different roles (Norm Waxman & others; Billy Dixon & others; Joey & others). Exactly how many roles do you cover in Jersey Boys actually? I don’t think I was able to name all of them. Is it a challenge remembering all the roles? Have you ever covered different roles in the same week? How often to you go on?

NS: I cover 6 roles in this Jersey Boys company. It is a challenge to remember them all, but luckily my brain is suited well for the task. My little secret is I have cheat sheets that I can brush up on the specifics of each part before I have to go on stage (entrances, exits, costume changes, important blocking, props needed, etc).

The greatest number of roles I have played in a week is 4. I think my average over the last 2.5 years is that I go on stage about once or twice a week.

FFL: It seems to me being a swing is probably the toughest job in a show since you may only get 30 minutes notice before you have to go on. What are the most exciting and toughest parts of being a swing?

NS: The great part about being a swing is that it’s always exciting to go on stage in any of the roles. Since it may be months between when I go on for a particular part, there’s that bit of anxiousness and nerves that makes it invigorating!

For me, the toughest part of being a swing is that I am not always able to plan to have family and friends see me in the show. In some cities, I don’t have scheduled shows, so any friends or family in that town just have to be “on call” in case I find out that I’m going to be on stage.

FFL: Speaking of covering for Joey, you’re a pretty tall and built guy, while the character of Joey is typically played by an actor who is smaller. What is it like going on for that role?

NS: Well, I’ll admit that I’m not a dead ringer for the role, but I think that I do the best I can to give it the flavor of the character that it needs. Courter Simmons leaves big little shoes to fill when he’s absent!!!

FFL: Understudying for the Tommy and Nick roles must be incredible! (I’ve seen you go on as Nick multiple times, and you are fantastic you’re one of my favorite Nicks actually!) Besides massive rehearsing, what did you do on your own to get to know more about these two amazing characters?

NS: During the rehearsal process, all actors are given the pertinent dramaturgy packets for their characters. These packets give a great history of these guys that help shape the characters in the show.

FFL: Do you find anything particularly challenging in playing Tommy and/or Nick?

NS: There are inherent challenges in playing roles this large. There’s a ton of dialogue, blocking, choreography, and singing for each part. It takes a lot of onstage time to really get comfortable in the skin of these guys and, even then, there are plenty of opportunities for snafus!

FFL: Considering you play SO many different roles in the show; do you have a favorite role and why?

NS: I don’t have a favorite role in the show. I’m happy any time the phone rings and I get to be on stage. Though there is a little more happiness perhaps when it’s Tommy or Nick that I get to go on for….

NS: While were on the topic of covering and understudying different roles, I’ve heard you hit the same kind of high notes that Frankie hits during the show (remember the BC/EFA Benefit Cabaret in Rochester?). Will you ever consider covering the role of Frankie one day? Is it difficult to retain a falsetto as well as the ability to sing the low bass notes such as the notes required for Nick’s part?

FFL: They offered me the role of Frankie in the original Broadway company, but I turned it down to do a student film….just kidding! I don’t fit the bill for a Frankie, sadly.

FFL: What’s your favorite musical number in the show?

NS: Well, I change my mind every few months, but I think right now my favorite song in the show is “Who Loves You” because the whole cast is onstage and the audience is seeing the culmination of the whole evening and these four amazing lives all come together. It’s visually and emotionally spectacular.

FFL: What about your favorite scene?

NS: I love the Cleveland cop scene and the subsequent jail scene. The whole episode really helps illustrate the particulars of each of the guys. And there are some huge laughs in there as well.

FFL: Any favorite lines in the show?

NS: “Lou, this is November, April is 9 months away….”

FFL: What sets Jersey Boys apart from other musicals, particularly jukebox musicals?

NS: I think the care that went into making this jukebox musical NOT a jukebox musical is what makes this special. The true story, the heart, the humor, the amazing songs placed where they are in the show—these things make this show unique.

FFL: What makes this show, particularly this cast, so fun to work with?

NS: This cast is full of great people, not just because of their immense talent, but also because of their caring hearts. We take our jobs seriously (but not too seriously) and we support each other both on and off stage.

FFL: What has the audience reaction been like in different cities? Say for example, Toronto, Boston, and right now Indianapolis.

NS: Each city is different in some respects. Some cities are more reserved throughout the beginning of the show whereas others replicate a rock concert audience right out of the gate. But every city is the same in that by the time the Big Three (Sherry, Big Girls, Walk Like a Man) happen in the show, the audience is cheering and singing and sometimes dancing in the aisles!

FFL: Why do you think people keep coming back to see Jersey Boys?

NS: I was brought up believing that the task of actors doing a show is to take the audience away to a different place. For the 2.5 hours they are in our theaters, its our job to make sure they forget all the things like bills, and jobs, and other of life’s stressors and just enjoy their time at the theater. Because Jersey Boys is such an amazing story, the audience truly does get transported to another place for those few hours. People love that feeling, so they keep coming back for more!

FFL: Since joining the Jersey Boys National Tour Company, have you learned anything about yourself that you didn’t know before?

NS: I sort of knew it before, but just like George Clooney in “Up in the Air,” I really, really love hotel points and airline miles. I love being a platinum member at each hotel chain. It’s silly, I know, but it’s a tiny perk of being on the road that I really love….

FFL: Last question to conclude this interview: Do you have a particular story or funny anecdote that has happened in a specific city, both on or offstage, that you would like to share with the Jersey Boys Blog readers?

NS: I hesitate to mention this because I take a lot of pride in what I do on stage, but… during the curtain call one night when I was on for the role of Knuckles, I came out and did my bow and as I was backing up to take my position on stage, I tripped over the corner of the drum kit and fell right on my rear. I’ll remind the readers who don’t know: Knuckles has the very first bow, so there wasn’t anyone else out on stage but me when this happened, so all 2500 people at the Denver Center got to see my little stumble….It was truly magical!


  1. Wow, great interview Frances!! Howard better watch out, he’s got competition!!

    Comment by Linda — July 2, 2010 @ 12:02 am

  2. Yay Frances!! Wonderful interview. I learned a lot about Nathan because of your carefully thought out questions. They also allowed his personality to come through. Thanks. Theresa

    Comment by Theresa Black — July 2, 2010 @ 4:32 pm

  3. What a great interview! Nathan is awesome — I’ve seen him play Nick (DC), Tommy (Charlotte), and Joey (Indianapolis), and he did a great job in all three roles. Seeing him as Joey was quite amusing…getting smacked around by Tommy when he looks like he could kick Tommy’s butt into next week! LOL And I have to say that he hit the nail on the head when he mentioned why he thinks people keep coming back to see Jersey Boys, at least as far as I’m concerned. Well said, Nathan…very well said.

    Comment by Shelley — July 2, 2010 @ 8:25 pm

  4. Great interview Frances! Is this your life’s profession now? I am jealous.

    Comment by gladys — July 3, 2010 @ 7:12 am

  5. Frances, this was wonderful….yes, Linda, it’s time to pass the baton to a new generation, and Frances, you’ve really stepped up to the plate with a memorable piece.

    Nathan, we have two things in common: I also have a mathematics degree and travel a great deal too. Now wouldn’t it be great if we could figure out the optimal way to use our frequent flyer miles…the requirement changes whenever I call Continental to try to utilize them!

    Comment by Howard — July 3, 2010 @ 10:30 am

  6. Frances, I am so proud of you! This interview is excellent! I think you have a promising new career ahead of you. Keep up the good work and I’ll wait with eager anticipation for the next interview!

    Comment by Gary — July 3, 2010 @ 3:24 pm

  7. Nice job, Frances! I’ve always wondered precisely what a swing does. I presume that even when he’s not onstage, Nathan is offstage singing, is that right?

    And awright, another math major! If I’m not mistaken, Chris Kale Jones was one and possibly rocket scientist Jeff Leibow too, and on the fan side I’m proud to number among the likes of Irene Eizen and Howard Tucker.

    I understand a “JB FOR MATH NERDS” is under development, with the following TOP TEN SCRIPT CHANGES being considered:

    10. It’s a sine, Tommy!
    9. It gets 8.793 miles to the gallon!
    8. I’m gonna be bigger than Pythagoras. (Only if you stand on a Planck.)
    7. like a drunk walking away from a lamppost (replacing like a cockroach on a map)
    6. Four Lovers? The Four Color Theorem!
    5. You’re just too good to be true / Can’t take the square root of negative two;
    4. Pi, pi, baby, baby good pi.
    3. Delgado. Castelluccio. Abscissa.
    2. Two cars, three girls, four guys. 4,096 possibilities divided by 4 factorial.
    1. You’re not from a round sphere, are you?

    Comment by stubbleyou — July 3, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

  8. Stubbleyou, I’m sure if you had written Jersey Boys, you would have included the character of Mary Dolciani. The name seems to fit right in, anyway. For those of you who don’t remember, Mary Dolciani wrote a bunch of High School Mathematics textbooks back in the 1960s and 1970s.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — July 3, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

  9. Great interview, Frances. Fascinating to read about Nathan’s perspective as a swing . The depth and talent of Jersey Boys’ many casts is incredible.

    Comment by Pamela — July 4, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

  10. Frances, you did a really great job. I am really proud of you.

    Comment by Peter — July 5, 2010 @ 11:28 pm

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