When Michael Longoria was performing on Broadway as Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys,” he wasn’t just pretending to be the lead singer of The Four Seasons.
“I never felt like I was playing Frankie, I felt like I was playing myself,” said Longoria, who will join three other original cast members of “Jersey Boys” at Proctors Friday at 8 p.m. for “The Midtown Men,” a concert performance celebrating the music that defined the 1960s. “I learned at NYU that it’s actually better to be that person, and literally feel like it was happening to you. I had the most real experience on that stage.”
Longoria will be joined on stage by Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer, also original members of the Broadway cast. Hoff won a Tony for his portrayal of Tommy Devito, Spencer was nominated for his performance as Nick Massi, and Reichard played another member of the group, Bob Gaudio. Longoria, meanwhile, played Joey on a regular basis but also performed as Valli during many matinee performances.
“For those two hours I wasn’t Frankie, obviously, but it felt like I was and the audience believed it,” said Longoria. “Having that experience of living out that world, to live out the dream of a pop star, was just amazing.”
“Jersey Boys,” which is closing its long run on Broadway this month, opened in 2005. The performers of “The Midtown Men” have been touring together for nearly seven years now, singing the songs of The Beatles, The Rascals, The Turtles, The Four Seasons and many more.
‘The Midtown Men’
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday
HOW MUCH: $60-$20
MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.proctors.org
“Having the opportunity to sing the music and to use my high falsetto like Frankie Valli really opened up my voice in a way I never could have imagined,” said Longoria. “It also helped me develop a huge love for the music of the Sixties. The music had so many messages, a common message, that is still there today. Everybody has heartbreak, everybody falls in love for the first time. Those are all things people can relate to, and that’s why the music is still so popular today.”
Longoria grew up in the 1980s in Hollywood, California, listening to Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey and others.
“Even earlier I grew up listening to my mother sing mariachi music, which are Mexican folk songs,” said Longoria. “Then I watched ‘West Side Story’ on television and discovered that people do sing in English. My musical evolution continued as I grew older.”
After graduating from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Longoria headed to New York City and NYU’s Tisch School for the Arts. Before he got his gig with “Jersey Boys,” Longoria’s first Broadway credit was as an ensemble member of the cast in “Hairspray” in 2004.
“I love doing ‘Midtown Men,’ but I also have other projects and I recently released my debut solo album,” he said. “All of us have other projects, but we love doing this tour and singing those songs. We’ll always have a special place in our hearts for ‘Jersey Boys’ and the music from that era.”
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]