January 6, 2009

Rick Elice’s Winding Road to Jersey

January 6th, 2009

Rick Elice

Broadway.com’s “First Person” column has a real treat today–the Rick Elice story, from Rick himself! Here’s a sneak peek into this amazing story:

When I was at Yale Drama School, nobody was into Broadway musicals. It just wasn’t cool. Everybody was genuflecting at the altar of Chekhov, but working on Broadway was my private dream. Don’t get me wrong—I loved me some Chekhov. You know that speech of Sorin’s in The Seagull: “I want to give Kostya a subject for a story,” the old man says. “It’s called ‘The Man Who Wanted To.’ When I was young, I wanted to be a writer, but I couldn’t put two words together. I wanted to make speeches, but I stutter too much. I wanted to get married, and here I am, still single…”

My “Chekhov” story could be called “The Man Who Lucked Out” (subtitle: A Broadway Fable).

I got into Yale with no resume. Lucked out. Was hired in a Broadway musical the day I graduated. On the strength of that, got an agent, an apartment and a life. Lucked out.

Five months later, I was fired. Lost the agent, wrote pitch letters for 75 bucks a week, ate a lot of baked beans, but I lucked out again. Was hired by American Repertory Theatre, and two years later, returned to New York ready, once more, for Broadway. Choreographed a show at the Astor Place and heard about auditions for a musical Joe Papp was doing across the street, written and directed by this freakishly talented Canadian dude, Des McAnuff, about the Red Baron—a big production that was definitely going to Broadway. I got cast. Lucked out.

Visit Broadway.com to find out the rest of the story on how Rick Elice “lucked out.”


  1. What a fabulous article on a fabulous man. Rick, my friend, you mention luck many times here. I have to say that it is talent, talent, and more talent that got you where you are today. It couldnt have happened to a lovelier, more kind and gracious person than yourself. You deserve all the accolades and adoration of everyone involved with Jersey Boys; from the various casts, crews,creative and production teams, and certainly from the fans!!

    xox, Pam

    Comment by Pamela — January 6, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

  2. Rick, I think we are the lucky ones. We are the ones filling those seats in the audience, having the time of our lives in whatever Broadway world you’ve imagined and created for us while you’re standing in the back of the theatre. I also think luck may have opened doors for you, but you walked through those thresholds with talent and charisma. I look forward to your future projects. Happy New Year! Lulu

    Comment by LuluThompson — January 6, 2009 @ 7:56 pm

  3. OMG, I’m logging onto the Blog for the first time today and what do I see–such a wonderful visage looking back at me!

    I echo everything that Pam says above, but please let me add one more factor, Rick. You are able to form a personal bond with whomever you meet. You not only remember names, but what people do and what they are interested in. Your whole attitude is one of caring and love–and one that people are thrilled to reciprocate.

    Just last week, I e-mailed you that I had returned from Ireland, and your response verbatim, was “Howard, glad you’re back on this side of the ocean. This way, we can keep an eye on you.” You may have meant it partially in jest, but the message to me was that someone in my life really truly cared.

    Rick, somehow many of us have an expectation that whoever becomes famous or powerful can be forgiven for high-handed or arrogant behavior. You have shown all of us just how charming someone can become, and more important, remain, when he treats everyone with graciousness and sincerity.

    I think you’ve only just started, Rick. With your talent and fan base now, an already wonderful career can only grow geometrically from this point on. I am so fortunate to have met you–first as a fan, and now as a friend. And yes, a lot of us would describe you as our “hero”.

    Comment by Howard Tucker — January 6, 2009 @ 8:51 pm

  4. This is a wonderful article about such an extraordinary person. I can only echo what my dear friend Pam has said in her comment. Rick, only the best of everything should come to you always – you are the best! All of us who have become such great fans of Jersey Boys have been immeasurably blessed by knowing you.

    Love, IE

    Comment by irene eizen — January 6, 2009 @ 9:42 pm

  5. Pam, that was great…couldn’t have said it better. We ALL need to thank God for bringing this wonderful man, into all our lives.
    We all love you, Rick
    Kathy J

    Comment by Kathy J — January 6, 2009 @ 9:51 pm

  6. Very nice essay. I don’t wanna sound, y’know – redundant – so I’ll just make this one point: Rick recalls “I remember the box office at La Jolla telling us, after five previews of Jersey Boys, that they were inundated with repeat customers coming back with friends.” What’s amazing is that here we are over four years later and the same thing is still going on, strong. Not only do many fans of Jersey Boys keep coming back like recidivists at Rahway State Correctional Facility, but they (okay, “we”) relish bringing first and second-timers along with. It reminds me of that black-and-white instructional film they showed us in high school science illustrating how a nuclear reaction works: There was a roomful of mousetraps, each loaded with two ping-pong balls. Then the narrator threw just one ball into the room, which triggered one trap, which then flung its two balls onto two other traps, and so on, and so on. Only I don’t think JB is even anywhere near its half-life. Better legs than Betty Grable and Ann Miller combined.

    PS Rick’s modesty in attributing much of his success to luck recalls the central theme of Woody Allen’s “Match Point,” a film I highly recommend to those who like to ponder such things. ;-)

    Comment by stubbleyou — January 7, 2009 @ 3:49 am

  7. Rick: I echo all those previously comments. I hope you are like that bunny on TV, you just keep going and going and going. There’s a whole heckuva a lot of talent with that little bit of luck life threw at you. Thanks for the memories we all share and I wish enormous continued success.

    Comment by LindaL — January 7, 2009 @ 11:01 am

  8. I ditto everyone elses remarks. God Bless all of those who gave us “Jersey Boys”

    Comment by GLADYS MARLIN — January 7, 2009 @ 11:49 am

  9. Rick,
    I too want to thank you for Jersey Boys. I have seen it multiple times and then some and still laugh out loud at the lines. You are right about the show lifting people’s spirits and having them leave the theater upbeat with smiling faces. That’s one reason why I keep going. Working all week, but knowing that I am able to see Jersey Boys on the weekend makes the week go faster and the work a little easier. I also enjoyed talking with you on several occasions and Howard is right when he says how you remember the names of people you meet! I look forward to your next project on Broadway.

    Comment by Beverley Micciche — January 7, 2009 @ 7:42 pm

  10. Hi Rick,

    What a great article. This truly could not have happened to a nicer person. It’s been so gratifying and refreshing to see and experience the success of Jersey Boys. We are all so happy for your accomplishment and look forward to your future projects. You have always been so gracious and kind at the many fan events that you attend. Your continued support for the JB cast even after they leave the show is remarkable. We have so much respect for you. I feel very privileged to have met you.

    Comment by Linda/Tiggerbelle — January 8, 2009 @ 10:27 am

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