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I have become a staff writer for StageLight Magazine, a new theatrical magazine covering the best of Broadway and Off-Broadway!

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Entries in Jersey Boys (1)

Saturday
Dec152012

The Midtown Men Interview

The Midtown Men (left-right): Daniel Reichard, J. Robert Spencer, Michael Longoria, Christian HoffFormed in 2007, The Midtown Men reunites the four stars from the Original Cast of Broadway’s Jersey Boys, Tony Award winner Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and Tony Award nominee J. Robert Spencer. Following their storied run on Broadway – where these four magnetic artists shared the stage for over a thousand performances and appeared on The Today Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve and The U.S. Open – they have been selling out venues coast to coast, bringing to life their favorite "Sixties Hits" from The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Motown, The Four Seasons and more, while living the dream they once portrayed on the stage. The Midtown Men is the next chapter for these accomplished entertainers, making them the first vocal group ever formed by the principal cast of a high-profile Broadway show.

Christian Hoff is thrilled to reunite with his fellow stars from the original cast of Broadway’s Jersey Boys as The Midtown Men. He won a Tony Award for his performance as Tommy DeVito in Jersey Boys, as well as Drama Desk Award, Drama League Award and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations. He was named "The Master of Mimicry" by Entertainment Weekly. His voice-over accomplishments have earned him notable success including Foreword Magazine’s 2008 Audio Book of The Year, when his voicing of over 200 characters surpassed the audio book world record. As the voice of "Richie Rich" in the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series, his voice-over career was launched and continues today with numerous audio books, television and radio campaigns. Theatrical highlights include the roles of "Frank-n-Furter" in the Los Angeles production of The Rocky Horror Show, "King Herod" in the national revival tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, "Governor Hugh Dorsey" in the Los Angeles revival of Parade, "George M. Cohan" in George M!, "Will Rogers" in The Will Rogers Follies, "Huck" in Big River, and his Broadway debut in the Tony Award and Grammy Award winning The Who’s Tommy. He recorded Grammy Award Winning Cast Albums for both Jersey Boys and The Who’s Tommy with famed Beatles producer George Martin. On television, Christian most recently guest starred on NBC’s Law & Order: SVU, appeared as "D.A. Richard Blackman" on ABC’s Ugly Betty, as well as federal prosecutor "Thomas Grady" on NBC’s Law and Order: Criminal Intent. Other notable film and television credits include roles in Encino Man, Star Trek IV, Honor Thy Mother, In Love and War, ER, JAG, Party of Five, Millennium, The Commish, Beverly Hills 90210, and the recurring role of "Marty" on All My Children. His independent film debut, Bad Dog and Superhero, was an official selection at the Brilliant Lights Film Fest, Los Angeles, winner of the Best Director Award at the Calgary Fringe Film Festival, as well as a best screenplay nomination and winner of the Stand Up For The Stand Out Award at Hell’s Half Mile Film Festival, all in 2007. Christian sings and performs the entire original film score written by Mark Hart of Crowded House, Ringo Starr and Supertramp fame. He has enjoyed solo performances in New York City’s Cutting Room, Triad Theater, Joe’s Pub, Metropolitan Room, BB Kings, Town Hall and repeat solo turns at Carnegie Hall. Christian is a proud husband and a father of five. For more on Christian visit http://christianhoff.com.

Michael Longoria is proud to be joining his co-stars from the original cast of Jersey Boys as The Midtown Men. Michael is best known for his star turn on Broadway as "Frankie Valli" in the Tony Award Winning musical Jersey Boys. Hollywood born and Broadway bound, Longoria trained at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, then traveled to the east coast to attend NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he earned himself a BFA in Drama. Michael made his Broadway debut in the smash hit musical Hairspray (2003 Tony award for Best Musical), later creating the role of Joey in the original Broadway cast of “Jersey Boys” (2006 Tony award for Best Musical) before taking over the role of "Frankie Valli" and taking his career to new heights beginning with performing solo for hundreds of thousands of fans in Times Square for Broadway On Broadway. He went on to numerous performances on television, including Broadway Under The Stars: A Tribute To Harold Prince, The US Open and the America’s Got Talent, season nine finale with Susan Boyle and Shakira. His journey recently led him back to Atlantic City with feature performance in That’s Life! with Joe Piscopo at Caesar’s. Other theatrical credits include "Peter Pan" in Peter Pan & Wendy at the Prince Music Theater, for which he earned a Barrymore Award nomination for Best Actor in a musical, "Chino" in West Side Story at the Walnut Street Theatre, "Mark" in A Chorus Line at Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center, and "Chuck" in Avenue X at the Abe Burrows Theater. In Europe, he performed the role of "Paul" in the German Tour of A Chorus Line, and "Baby John" in West Side Story at the famed Teatro alla Scala-Milan. As a singer-songwriter, Michael has shared his one of a kind talent at such venues as New York City’s CB’s Gallery, Cutting Room, Joe’s Pub, The Knitting Factory, and Caroline’s on Broadway. For more on Michael be sure to visit http://michaellongoria.com.

Daniel Reichard is honored to join forces once again with Broadway’s original cast of Jersey Boys as The Midtown Men. Daniel, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, is best known for his portrayal of chief songwriter and original Four Seasons member "Bob Gaudio" in the box-office smash Jersey Boys, a role he originated both on Broadway and in the La Jolla Playhouse premiere. He followed Jersey Boys with a critically acclaimed performance as "Candide" in Leonard Bernstein’s Candide at the New York City Opera. Daniel made his New York City debut after graduating with a BFA from the University of Michigan with the original cast in the world-famous Forbidden Broadway: 20th Anniversary Celebration. His signature style and enormous talent paved the way to starring roles in New York City and beyond, including his triumphant portrayal of artist and social activist "Keith Haring" in Radiant Baby at Joe Papp’s Public Theater, "Man" in The Thing About Men, whose cast album he also appears on, and "Emmet" in the world premiere of the musical version of Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas at the Goodspeed Opera House. As a concert singer, Daniel has had sold-out engagements at New York City’s Joe’s Pub, Metropolitan Room and Ars Nova. Other concert appearances include Symphony Space, The Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater, BB Kings, Town Hall, Firebird and the Cutting Room, as well as appearances with the Arkansas and Grand Rapids Symphonies. He can be seen as "Frankie" in the 2009 film version of the international hit musical comedy Forever Plaid. For more on Daniel check out http://danielreichard.com.

J. Robert Spencer is excited to return to making music with The Midtown Men, which reunites four stars from the original cast of Jersey Boys. He is a Tony Award Nominated Actor, Independent Film Director, Producer, and Writer. In 2004, he was cast and originated the role of "Nick Massi" in the Tony and Grammy Award winning musical Jersey Boys. In 2008 J. Robert was cast and originated the role of "Dan Goodman" in the critically acclaimed Broadway production of Next To Normal, for which he was nominated for the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actor, and nominated for a 2008 – 2009 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical. As a voiceover artist, he has performed the lead voices for two Japanese animated features: Nightmare Campus and the critically acclaimed, award winning Grave of the Fireflies. In 2004, J. Robert appeared as a psychopathic killer named "Bob" in the independent feature film Night of the Dog. The role earned him a Best Supporting Actor Nomination at the Smmash Film Festival, and the film won Audience Awards for best feature film at Palm Beach, Santa Barbara, SMMASH and PBIFF. In 2005, J. Robert began his Independent Film Company, 7 Spencer Productions, for which he produced, wrote, starred and directed his first independent feature comedy titled Farm Girl In New York. The film was featured on The Today Show with Ann Curry and Al Roker, and was the official selection of the Sacramento International Film Festival (Nominated for Best Comedy and Best Actress,) Big Apple Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival, Buffalo Niagara Film Festival, and the Seattle True Independent Film Festival, and is being distributed by Maverick Entertainment. He just completed his second independent feature film titled Heterosexuals, for which he is listed as executive producer/producer/actor. He is also executive producer with Wood Media Films on an environmental documentary titled On Coal River, which has been the official selection of Silverdocs, Camden, Hamptons, Chesapeake and New Orleans Film Festivals. J. Robert can be seen and heard in CD/DVD through Sony Masterworks with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops in the PBS performances of Handel’s Messiah Rocks, in which he was nominated for a 2010 Midwest Emmy Award for Best On Camera Performance by a Leading Actor. J. Robert is the 2009 recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Shenandoah University. For more on J. Robert Spencer check out http://www.jrobertspencer.com.

The Midtown Men are currently touring the country through 2013! Click here to find out when they will be in a city near you. Also be sure to pick up their album "Sixties Hits" and their new holiday single "All Alone On Christmas."

For more on the The Midtown Men follow them on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and at http://themidtownmen.com! 

1. Who or what inspired you to become performers? 

J. Robert Spencer: Steve Martin and Johnny Carson were actually a big influence on me as far as comedians and as entertainers. I wanted to do what they were doing. Making people laugh and have a good time. Now I get to do that along with my other love, which is 60's Rock And Roll.

Christian Hoff: I remember being kinda shy but having a great imagination and loved to pretend and loved music. I also loved being physical. I loved sports and riding my bike and running around and singing and dancing. When I got onstage for the first time and found that I could have all those things and be a storyteller too...I was hooked. I started pursuing every opportunity I could find to just do it. A reluctant but unwavering ham.

Michael Longoria: My mom sang in a band when I was growing up, so it started there watching those late night rehearsals. After that, Ritchie Valenz. The first song I ever sang for a public audience was "Oh Donna."

Daniel Reichard: My first (and truest) idol that inspired me to do what I do (the way that I like to do it) was Steve Martin. I loved movies like The Jerk and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. Most especially, I would watch his appearances on Saturday Night Live, and his television specials. His work as a comic actor, especially in the 70s and 80s, was exceptional...He was dashing but the joke was always on him.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? 

J. Robert Spencer: I would love to do a play one day with Jeff Daniels.

Christian Hoff: Christopher Nolan as a director would be a great opportunity to couple a real life perspective with larger than life circumstances. Something I have always been drawn to as a person and an actor.

Michael Longoria: Stephen Sondheim...I've always been a huge fan of his work. Stephen, write me a song will ya???

Daniel Reichard: I love great directors...I've worked with a few--George C. Wolfe, Des McAnuff, among others. I would love to work with Susan Stroman and Graziella Danielle, among others.

3. You all starred in "Jersey Boys" together on Broadway, which I was fortunate enough to see. Looking back, what was the best part about starring together in this show? 

J. Robert Spencer: Being able to say that we are a part of history by being one of the Original Stars, forevermore, in one of the biggest hits of all time!

Christian Hoff: The experience of having a character tailored to you was incomparable. Your essence and timing and inflection stamped forever in a script as brilliant as it is raw, like Marshall Brickman and Rick Elices. Having your performance shape a legendary production and then be recognized for your contribution, unforgettable and glorious. We all like to be liked and seek to be somehow indispensable in our lives and work. Now the molds they made with us are allowing other actors to explore themselves in our shoes, much like I did filling the shoes of the one and only Tommy DeVito.

Michael Longoria: Knowing that the four of us had each other at every moment. I never felt lost on the journey of the play cause the connection was so raw and real.

Daniel Reichard: Oh wow, there is so much to think about here. We were very lucky to grow together and discover both good and bad realities of show business in the center of this huge Broadway success. I did JERSEY BOYS for two years and three months, and it felt like we were the toast of the town the entire time. With that success came sacrifices and rewards, and we got to experience all of those things together.

The Midtown Men (left-right): Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, J. Robert Spencer, and Daniel Reichard3a. What made you want to continue on as The Midtown Men? 

J. Robert Spencer: Being our own bosses, and running things our way!

Christian Hoff: A sublime addiction to the power of mixing dynamic personalities, sound and storytelling like we learned to do together led me back to the guys and our ability to do what we love most, entertain and share something great with each other and our audiences. The entertainers' life, lived out to the fullest.

Michael Longoria: We continued getting requests to sing together and it felt good to keep the magic we created together in Jersey Boys going, especially with our debut album as The Midtown Men. We wanted to show what our sound could do on songs recorded by the other pop groups that sang in the same era as the group we portrayed on stage.

Daniel Reichard: Now it's very similar with The Midtown Men; we are going on the rocket ride together all over again. We spend time away from our friends and family, we meet incredible fans, we do exciting shows, and we are STILL learning so much.

3b. How has your relationship strengthened over the years? 

J. Robert Spencer: On Broadway you have separate dressing rooms to hide in IF you're annoyed at one of your cast mates. When you're side by side on the road as much as we are, you can't hide and if you are having an issue with anyone on the team, you have to Man up, speak your mind, and try to do it as respectfully as sensitively as you can. Honesty is the only key to success and a stress free environment and we've all been really good at balancing that...and it's made us stronger.

Christian Hoff: Our relationship has strengthened in love and commitment. It's sort of like a family business whose success and sacrifice refines the bond and raises the stakes.

Michael Longoria: I think we know each other very well. We share hundreds of stages across America and every audience that come to see us sing leave knowing our friendship. That comes from being stuck on a 5 hr road trip to the next city!

Daniel Reichard: Our relationship strengthens every week...We thought we knew each other THEN, but boy do we know each other now. We have a brotherhood, and with all we have been through together, it is a sacred connection between us.

4. You've recently released your debut album as "The Midtown Men" called "Sixties Hits." What excites you about this release? 

J. Robert Spencer: That we did it our way all the way!

Christian Hoff: The music from our live show that made the album was distilled down through politics and passion. We wanted to capture the love and respect we have for one another and this incredible decade of music and give people a way to take the excitement and energy home with them.

Michael Longoria: That people get to hear us sing outside the box of being a character. In Jersey Boys I let Frankie Valli's recordings and his video taped performances influence how I used my voice to portray his life and music...with the album I get to sing these songs how I would approach them. We get to reinvent them a little and spread it to groups like the Mamas and Papas.

Daniel Reichard: Well, this album really reflects our first year and a half on the road.  It is a time capsule for this period of our lives. We had just enough time to record some of the highlights of our show in the midst of a busy touring schedule. Most importantly, we funded, produced, distributed, and conceived this album ourselves. We love how we show what "The Midtown Men Sound" is...I always say, it's great driving, treadmill, and making dinner music.

4b. What is it about this time in music that made you want to keep on singing it? 

J. Robert Spencer: Because this era of music is universal and timeless.

Christian Hoff: No other decade of music has captured machismo and vulnerability like the Sixties did. It is dream to bring it to live every time we step up to the mic.

Michael Longoria: The men at that time really knew how to bare their souls on a song. I learn a lot from listening to those recordings, many of them done on a few takes.

Daniel Reichard: These songs truly speak to the romantic spirit of people, and we intend to energize and uplift people when we sing for them. The album is meant to reflect that intention.

The Midtown Men Live5. What do you enjoy most about traveling the country on tour? 

J. Robert Spencer: I love seeing America. I love meeting the people. I love playing these historic venues.

Christian Hoff: I enjoy the people. 

Michael Longoria: Dominos Pizza!

Daniel Reichard: We have played big cities, small towns, and everything in between. It's been fascinating to get a comprehensive tour of our country. We have played cities I would never have imagined visiting --Galveston, TX, Lafayette, LA, Cedar Rapids, IA and dozens and dozens of other cities and towns. I have loved gaining a broader perspective of the country. We are a little sheltered, a little "inside a bubble" in NYC, and it's been refreshing. The fact that we get unanimous ovations at the end of our shows no matter where we are tells me are still in the game. We sign every autograph and take every picture after every show--It sometimes takes over an hour, but it is worth it. It is our way of thanking our audiences.

5a. What do you hope audiences come away with after attending your concerts? 

J. Robert Spencer: A big smile.

Christian Hoff: A shared experience that is unforgettable and unique.

Michael Longoria: Joy, memories, and a soar throat!

Daniel Reichard: We are giving it our all, and our audiences give us their energy back.

The Midtown Men in their Houston Symphony Orchestra Debut6. This past summer you made your symphonic debut with the Houston Symphony. What did this occasion mean to you? 

J. Robert Spencer: To originally start as 4 guys around a piano...to 4 guys with an 85 piece orchestra backing them?!? We were SO thrilled! Top of the world!

Christian Hoff: It was like wearing a new suit, with a vintage tie.

Michael Longoria: Huge accomplishment as performers, singers, entrepreneurs, and best friends.

Daniel Reichard: The Houston Symphony was PHENOMENAL. What a milestone for us. We were blown away by Jones Hall, and the 85 talented musicians that backed us onstage. It was surreal but it felt right. The response was exciting and sincere. We have symphony performances ahead of us in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Omaha.

The Midtown Men on "Good Morning America"7. You also made an appearance on Good Morning America this summer. What did you enjoy most about that?

 J. Robert Spencer: Showing off The Midtown Men to millions of viewers! Also, the energy, excitement, and love for what we do and what we have accomplished as artists!

Christian Hoff: We reached 4.5 million new fans in an hour and had a blast just doing our thing.

Michael Longoria: Getting introduced to the nation as the Midtown Men.

Daniel Reichard: Again, Good Morning America was a milestone. It was great being on the Today Show when we were in JERSEY BOYS, but this felt so much more gratifying because the four of us, with our incredible team, got us to this occasion. We were on a ton that morning, and it was a great adventure.

 

8. What have you learned about yourselves from being performers? 

J. Robert Spencer: That being a performer is where I am most comfortable.

Christian Hoff: Humility and pride are both necessary. You must be strong willed and teachable at the same time. 

Michael Longoria: How to maintain the gift in the hardest of circumstances and the coldest and driest of climates. The show must always go on.

Daniel Reichard: You learn that our friendships are like our performances. You have to give effort and you have to learn to receive thanks. You have to be quiet and still sometimes, and other times you have to take the lead. You have to respect your audience and you have to respect your colleagues.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? 

J. Robert Spencer: Whiskey and beer never fear...beer and whiskey now that's risky!

Christian Hoff: Be yourself.

Michael Longoria: Don't push. And don't tank up on air...thanks Joan Lader ;)

Daniel Reichard: See this opportunity through!

10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? 

J. Robert Spencer: It would be wonderful to dream and visit with my great, great, great, great, grandfather and grandmother.

Christian Hoff: God.

Michael Longoria: My honey boo boo child.

Daniel Reichard: It would probably be Call Me, Adam :-) 

The Midtown Men (left-right): Daniel Reichard, Christian Hoff, J. Robert Spencer, Michael LongoriaBONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite way to spend your day off? 

J. Robert Spencer: With my family.

Christian Hoff: Watching the kids play outside, my wife and I watching and sharing a drink and something good to eat.

Michael Longoria: Rosa Mexicano.

Daniel Reichard: I love walking my French Bulldog, Boscoe, through my neighborhood in downtown Manhattan, stopping into shops, and drinking iced lattes.

12. Favorite way to stay in shape? 

J. Robert Spencer: Stretching on yoga ball.

Christian Hoff: Crossfit.

Michael Longoria: Not going to Rosa Mexicano :)

Daniel Reichard: You gotta mix it up. I love lifting weights, doing sprints on the treadmill or bike, and when I'm really strong, I swim laps.

13. Boxers or Briefs? 

J. Robert Spencer: Hugo Boss Briefs!

Christian Hoff: Calvin Klein Boxer-Briefs.

Michael Longoria: It depends on how hot the party after the show is ;)

Daniel Reichard: Briefs. There's no choice. That's the way it needs to be.

14. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? 

J. Robert Spencer: To FLY!

Christian Hoff: Healing Factor like Wolverine or Jesus.

Michael Longoria: Flying.

Daniel Reichard: To fly, because I'm getting so sick of sitting on planes.