September 7, 2012

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Preston Truman Boyd!

September 7th, 2012

Preston Truman Boyd
Preston Truman Boyd during his JBB Exclusive Interview at the Keller Auditorium in Portland

We’re so excited to present our JBB Exclusive Interview with Preston Truman Boyd, who has been playing “Bob Gaudio” in the JERSEY BOYS first national tour over the past year! In between his two Saturday shows in Portland, Preston shared stories about his inspirations and passion for theater from an early age, his tour experiences with Young Frankenstein, achieving his dream role in his favorite show, JERSEY BOYS, his life on tour, and more!

Jersey Boys Blog: Thanks so much for chatting with us between shows today, Preston. You were so amazing last night as Bob Gaudio! So, let’s go back, did you want to be in musical theater from Day One?

Preston Truman Boyd: Yes! I grew up and had to make the hard decision of hockey or musical theater and I ended up choosing musical theater, which I think was a good choice (chuckles).

I had a very supportive family. My grandfather was an opera singer who sang in the Roman Italian Opera House in Italy and taught voice at Boulder. Music has been in my family. My dad was a voice major his first year in college, then didn’t want to be like his parents, so he dropped out and went to business school.

I was very, very fortunate, because I hear all these stories about people who really want to make this as a career choice and it ended up not working out because their parents wouldn’t support them.

From Day One, I was very, very fortunate to be raised in the community which was very strong in the arts. Rebecca Meyer-Larson was one of my mentors growing up. She was my high school theater director and she made it seem like the sky was the limit. I talked to a girl who I grew up with who ended up playing Elle Woods in Legally Blonde on Broadway and on tour and she was in Hairspray on Broadway, and Hugh Kennedy, who’s working with the Guthrie—so there are a few kids from my high school who are doing it.

It’s always been in front of me and it came to the point where I needed to make choices about where to go to school. I asked Becky, ‘Where do kids in your cast come from?’ So, I ended up in Cincinnati at the Conservatory of Music. Did my senior showcase, moved to New York, signed with the Gage Group, did some readings here and there, was on episodes of “The Guiding Light,” and worked at a wine bar. I’m a big wine fanatic and I will hopefully take my sommelier test when I get back to the city.

JBB: Had we known that, we would have brought wine instead of cookies.

PTB: (Laughs) Then, I had an audition for Susan Stroman’s and Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein and got that gig. It was my year and a half into my ‘New York experience,’ as I call it. Then, I did a year there with Roger Bart and Shuler Hensley. Many of the OBC members transferred to the tour, and then I took over for Shuler as The Monster.

I think Bob and the Monster are two completely different roles (laughs)…That’s as far apart as you can get, I think.

In the meantime, I had gone to visit my girlfriend [Sydney Morton] who was doing JERSEY BOYS in Chicago. After seeing it years ago on Broadway and seeing it again on Broadway and seeing it again in Chicago, it kind of rekindled my love for the show and for the role, especially. I don’t think I could be satisfied with my life if I hadn’t had a chance to play this role every night. It’s my favorite show and I get to do my favorite show nearly every day.

JBB: We’ve heard that nonstop from nearly every one of your castmates as well, that JERSEY BOYS was their favorite show. Why? Is it because it’s a cool guys’ show, or is it something else?

PTB: Yeah, it’s the cool guys’ show, it’s the music, the story—anybody can relate to anything that happens on this stage on this show. Marshall and Rick did such an incredible job with the book. I call it the perfect show, because there is really not a moment in the whole show that lacks or slows it down at all. It’s incredible; it’s my favorite show!

JBB: Back to The Monster, was there anything you took from the character that helped you play Bob in Jersey Boys? Or, is that a ridiculous question, considering they’re so completely different?

PTB: Not at all is that a ridiculous question! In that role, you do about an act and a half without any use of language or words; you can’t express through words what you’re trying to get across. So, I think I really got into my head about ways to ask for things or inform my fellow actors on stage without words. It’s all expression and internal thoughts. With this eloquent book on top of what I brought from Young Frankenstein, it was a great marriage of what I bring to the show every night.

JBB: And it was phenomenal last night!

PTB: Thank you! Thank you!

JBB: As far as playing Bob Gaudio, are you anything like the real guy?

PTB: I have not had the opportunity and the pleasure to meet Bob yet, but I’ve been told from a lot of people that he’s much more reserved than Preston is. I think coming into the show immediately, which was one thing that I had to really pay attention to–to not really overdo it, because I’m very passionate and expressive. Not saying that Bob isn’t passionate, because you can tell from the show that he’s one of the most passionate guys on stage. It’s really interesting to try to be somebody else who is still alive. And, you’re not necessarily only acting, you’re really trying to be somebody else. That was kind of the stretch for me in the beginning….being a little more reserved and to still pack that same punch that Bob does, but do it in a way with some stillness and some power that I don’t really do in my everyday life.

JBB: It had to be really hard to really tone it down, wasn’t it?

PTB: Yeah, it was, because when you’re an actor and you know that you have more to give, it’s really hard and almost frustrating. So, I had to figure out a way to be satisfied with that …and I really have—and I have felt really comfortable in Bob’s shoes, now. Who knows? Maybe some of that may trickle down into Preston someday—definitely another role I could play someday (chuckles).

JBB Tech Half: So, in that respect, do you feel like you have to be more dramatic, as opposed to more expressive?

PTB: I don’t know any other way to say it other than just stillness. The gusto is still there, but it comes from a still place and that’s what I had to find.

JBB Tech Half: Preston, Frankie says, ‘The road is the road.’ We’ve been asking your castmates to share their most memorable road story. What’s yours?

PTB: When I was in Young Frankenstein, Susan Stroman told the cast collectively, ‘You are all tourists; don’t forget how fortunate you are to be in the shoes you are in.’

I have a zillion friends in New York who are still pushing pencils and waiting tables, doing all that stuff. To have the opportunity to travel the country, to see landmarks, and to play golf courses that are on my bucket list, I’m 26 years old and I’m already checking so many things off. It’s really incredible; I’m so fortunate to not necessarily be just working, but to be doing this in this fashion.

Ultimately, I would love to be on Broadway—that’s one of my goals, but this is what Broadway is to me. And, instead of being trapped in New York, I’m going to Portland, I’m going to Vancouver, going all over the country. It’s really special.

JBB: Who knew you were a golfer? Maybe you two could have done nine holes this morning before the matinee (chuckles)?

JBB Tech Half: Where have you played that was on your bucket list?

PTB: TPC Sawgrass, Torrey Pines, Frenchman’s Reserve down in Florida, Medina, Southern Hills in Tulsa. I played on the high school team growing up.

JBB: Wow, you were in all those sports in high school, in addition to all of the theater?! You sound like you were an amazing overachiever with all those talents!

PTB: I was a psycho in high school (chuckles); I did way too much and had a great time! I played on high school team.

JBB: You’ve been so many places on two tours. Do you have a favorite city?

PTB: I really loved Chicago and really loved San Francisco. I’m a big foodie guy, too—so every time I go through Chicago, I try to eat at TRU, one of my favorite restaurants in the country. It’s nice to have gone through these cities before, then to come through with another show, and then you got your list already made out.

JBB: What have you learned about yourself playing Bob & being with this tour that you didn’t know before?

PTB: That’s a good question. I think doing a show like this, you gain a little more trust of yourself. There’s a lot of material in this role and it’s very fast and it’s really unlike any other show and that’s why so many people are drawn to it. Every actor has a little bit of doubt when they first get the job and start rehearsals and join the company. I remember just coming out to join the company and Quinn [VanAntwerp] is a friend of mine from before. Quinn is a great guy, so he kind of gave me a couple of pointers, some secrets, and some great tips and such. He really helped me with my confidence joining the cast.

It was such a welcoming family here at JERSEY BOYS. So, when I hit the stage that first night and I got that sophomore show out of the way, which the second show is always the tough one. Then I got through that first week, and I got to enjoy some of the parts more and not be a complete nervous wreck on stage (chuckles). Now, it’s so comfortable. Like I said before, I’m so comfortable in Bob’s shoes. That first two weeks when you join a company, is really a growing process and I learned to trust myself, I think.

JBB Tech Half: I need to go back to golf (Preston laughs). I keep seeing more sports analogies between being an actor and an athlete. So, in that respect, you’re offstage for half of the first act. So, you’re waiting to tee off, do you have the first tee jitters?

PTB: I will say that I generally don’t hit balls before I tee off and a lot of people do. I feel like when I come to the theater, it’s more about saying hello to everyone, how was your night, how are you feeling today, that kind of thing. When you enter that atmosphere on stage, they’re still your friends and your co-workers. Yes, they’re another person at the time, but when you’ve checked in and said hello and I make sure that I’ve done that. Obviously, I have to do a little vocal warm-up and sometimes I say my first four or five lines just to get my brain going, but I don’t do much of the woe is me, read a sonnet , or listen to The Four Seasons.

JBB: Let’s go back a little to your audition for JERSEY BOYS. Do any memories that stand out?

PTB: I remember having dinner with Drew Gehling. Drew is one of the nicest guys in New York City and he was so cordial and kind of told me some things about the audition. Merri Sugarman, who cast the show with Tara Rubin, had cast me in Young Frankenstein, so that little comfort of walking into the room really helps when you’re going into a room instead of seeing a face you haven’t seen before. It really helped get the jitters out, like you said. They’re always there. You ask an actor if they’re still nervous; they’re lying if they tell you no. There’s at least a split second of nerves during a show; sometimes a line will leave your head for a second.

I remember when Des [McAnuff] was in my final callback. I had never seen him, obviously never had spoken to him before. He saw my special skills on my resume and he said, “Oh you played hockey.” So, we talked hockey for a split second and that totally just lifted the cloud. Just like I said before, you join the stage; it’s nice to just check in with people as human beings…as opposed to the director, or the auditionee.

JBB: It seems like cast members in companies really develop a special bond quickly, is that true?

PTB: These are my best friends of the moment. We’re on tour with our family and that definitely translates. When you’re doing a show about four guys who are on the road doing a show, life imitates art and art imitates life. We’ll be out at a restaurant and [John] Gardiner will say something and you’ll say, ‘Tommy would say that!’ Then, you’ll be on stage doing a scene and I’ll flashback to a week ago to something that happened. That’s what makes it really, really exciting and interesting every night and that’s what keeps the show fresh, ultimately.

JBB Tech Half: What do you think you’ll miss most about your life on tour when you decide to go back to New York City?

PTB: It is leaving your family and your friends, in a way. I will miss the experience of touring the country, that’s been very nice. I hate living out of a suitcase, but it’s all give and take. If I have to live out of a suitcase to enjoy the country, I’ll do that. I will miss my friends, but I will be joining my other friends in New York again, but it’s a very different atmosphere. Once you step off the plane at LaGuardia, you put your hustle shoes on again and it’s really fast and quick. I feel like I’m able to relax a little more on the road. I’m going to make a point to head north a little more when I’m in the city to camp, hike, and do stuff like that. We did some unbelievable hiking and camping when we were in Banff. There’s something very spiritual and refreshing about looking out and seeing nature.

Preston Truman Boyd will be ending his JB first national tour run on September 9. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors!


  1. I LOVE Preston!! Not only is he a fabulous Bob, but he’s such a sweetheart. So nice, so funny, and so talented. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see him so many times in DC. Best wishes to you Preston, and best of luck in all of your future endeavors! I hope to see you on Broadway sometime soon. :)

    Comment by Shell — September 7, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

  2. This interview with Preston Truman Boyd was so much fun to read. He not only has the desire and passion to make it in theatre, but he also is very grateful for his opportunities that have come to him so far. Loved watching his portrayal of Bob Gaudio when he was in Chicago!

    Comment by Karen — September 7, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

  3. Loved the Preston Truman Boyd interview! Thanks for posting interviews from the Jersey Boys tour. They’re such a great group of actors. Will there be more soon?

    Comment by Holly — September 7, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

  4. Great interview. I don’t keep up with all that is going on with the First National Tour, but naturally I started feeling a connection with Preston (after all I spent hours practicing for the golf team try-outs in HS) as I read through this only to discover he has already moved on.

    Nevertheless, it was great to have another glimpse into the life of a tour cast member – their connections off stage, their bucket lists and what it’s like to play a character requiring a step outside one’s self.

    Comment by Audrey — September 10, 2012 @ 11:04 pm

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