December 25, 2012
Interview With The Leads From Jersey Boys
[ Updated on 6 January 2013: Jersey Boys will end its run at Marina Bay Sands on 27 January instead of 17 February. Good seats are likely to be limited, so if you intend to see the show, make sure you book ASAP to avoid disappointment. ]
A very Merry Christmas to our readers!
Following a great response to our review of the show, we arranged a Q&A with ( from left ) Daniel Buys ( Tommy DeVito ), Grant Almirall ( Frankie Valli ), Kenneth Grant Meyer ( Bob Gaudio ) and Emmanuel Castis ( Nick Massi ).
The interview covers aspects of the musical itself, as well as the actors' impressions of Singapore, which are hilarious! Happy reading, and remember, the show runs at the Marina Bay Sands till 17 February, though tickets for performances from 29 January onwards are unavailable ( box office informed me they're sold out! ).
Don't miss your chance to see this beautiful production! And our sincere thanks to Yolanda from Showtime Management, as well as the 4 gentlemen, for taking time out of their hectic schedules to make this possible. :)
Last but not least, you can also catch them at the Marina Bay New Year's Eve Countdown party on 31 December, which will be broadcast live on Channel 5.
They have a 20-minute performance at 9:30pm, and will appear again at 11:35pm.
1) Jersey Boys is a high-octane musical and you perform 8 shows a week ( Grant does 6 shows, with Jaco Van Rensburg as Frankie Valli during weekend matinees ). What's your secret to keeping energy levels up and delivering great performances every night?
Grant: It's a constant struggle! I try to eat well as well as get enough rest and keep myself as healthy as possible.
Daniel: Doing 8 shows a week is very physically and mentally demanding... especially the doubles on a weekend. So to keep energy levels up I try to get enough sleep, drink lots of water and exercise regularly. Good R&R is also essential!
Kenneth: Well firstly, it's the obvious things that one should always avoid - too much partying and alcohol. Secondly, a lot of sleep and vitamins work very well with each other to sustain a healthy body and vocal cords.
Emmanuel: Well the best thing for that is rest. A good night’s sleep, and good vocal rest. I try and keep my fitness up by doing some gym training ( not my favourite thing in the world ) during the week. I’ve just bought a bicycle here in Singapore, so I’ll keep some of that fitness up that way. So in general just staying healthy to stay energised.
2) What do you enjoy most about your individual roles and the show as a whole?
Daniel: What I love about Tommy is his charm and swagger which is juxtaposed with outbursts of poisonous rage where he says whatever he feels! It makes him a fun and unpredictable character!
What I love about the show as a whole is that it takes us on a journey that we all buy into - audience and cast. We get to live the Four Seasons story and vicariously live our own dreams!
Kenneth: I enjoy the feeling that you get after performing each song and hearing the audience go wild. That feeling of being a rock star like the original Four Seasons is the BEST!!!
Emmanuel: I love Nick's style and his matter-of-factness. That’s what makes him funny. He is so matter-of-fact about everything he talks about. The show is just amazing as a whole. Every little bit of music choreography and text is so beautifully interwoven, that it just makes an amazing piece to watch, and for me to work on.
Grant: I enjoy the fact that I get to sing all these great songs every night and then also perform them with a great cast of people.
3) Any personal faves in terms of Jersey Boys songs or scenes?
Kenneth: One of my most favourite scenes is when Bob Gaudio auditions for the group and sings Cry for Me. One by one each of the guys joins in until they all make that Four Seasons sound for the first time in the show. That is my favourite. Other than that I really do love the whole show!
Emmanuel: I love Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. It’s a classic and it was a ground-breaking song. I can imagine the first time Frankie Valli ever sang that to anyone - the women in the audience would have fallen in love instantly. What a love song!
My favourite scene is the sit-down, getting really stuck into the mobster side of things. Just a bunch of guys and a whole lotta testosterone. Fantastic to be in a scene like that. Now for a Scorsese film… haha!
Grant: Can't Take My Eyes Off You, definitely. Beggin' and the the sit-down scene.
Daniel: Cry For Me, Walk Like A Man and Bye Bye Baby. Favourite scene - the sit-down.
4) Are you surprised at all by the overwhelmingly positive response from critics and audiences?
Emmanuel: To be honest, I never saw the musical before I got involved with it, so I didn't know what to expect, I just knew it was another type of show altogether, and that people would love it. But the responses we have gotten and the reviews have been amazing! Especially since Singapore audiences are quite reserved! Nice to see people getting up and dancing.
Grant: Not really. I mean, when I saw the show on Broadway, I knew that it was special and would be a hit wherever it went.
Daniel: I guess you can never be sure how people, especially critics - hence the name - will respond, but I fell in love with this show from the moment it all started for me and I was pretty convinced others would feel the same. That said, I’m very grateful for the response!!
Kenneth: Yes and no. I've always been a Jersey Boys fan, and whereever it has gone it has been a hit! I was worried because of the cultural differences but Singapore seems to get what it's all about!!!
5) Grant and Daniel, you attended a performance of Jersey Boys on Broadway, when "original Frankie", Tony winner John Lloyd Young, returned for a short stint. Did you meet him, and what valuable advice or insights did he share?
Grant: Unfortunately, I only saw him briefly before the show when we were rushed past backstage to our seats.
Daniel: I did meet him but very briefly so no pearls of wisdom were shared. I did chat to Andy Carl who played Tommy on Broadway and he told me to have fun with it!
[ Kenneth: Unfortunately, I didn't go with to Frankie camp. They just asked Frankie ( Grant ) and Tommy ( Daniel ) to join. Nick ( Emmanuel ) and I stayed home and marvelled at John Lloyd Young on YouTube.
Emmanuel: I wasn’t there unfortunately… and I must stress I’m not envious at all! #sarcasticjustsaying ]
6) Live theatre can be very unpredictable. Have there been any "unexpected events" during performances, and how did the cast and crew get around them?
Daniel: There have been unexpected events but we just keep going. Communication is vital and a cool head is key! We’ve had to stop the show once when the sound desk crashed! But it was handled calmly and the audience applauded us when we restarted!
Kenneth: Anything can happen which makes the experience all the more entertaining. For example, some of the scene changes didn't come on properly. But like they say, "The show must go on." So that's what we do - continue as if nothing happened.
Emmanuel: Oh yes! Talk about unpredictability. There have been some occasions, very few I might add, where drums haven’t moved to places, mics haven’t come on stage, but we have a phenomenal crew backstage, and a cast that really can think on their toes. So you improvise. Move around the stuck drum kit, dodge the moving one, pretend there wasn’t supposed to be a mic there in the first place, and then the skillful stage manager and crew manage to set it all on track again without stopping the show.
Grant: Once, the stools for the diner scene didn't come on properly so Kenneth (Bob) and I had to stand by the table and do the scene instead of sitting.
7) Is there anything about Singapore that has surprised or perhaps shocked you? Be honest. :)
Kenneth: I AM SURPRISED BY ALL THE SHOPS... it's like heaven. Singapore literally has everything one would want to buy. This is a good and a bad thing in terms of wanting to save my money or buying something I really want!
Emmanuel: I can’t believe how many shopping malls there are in this country. Wow! I need to find a rich shipping magnate's daughter to take me shopping. So far that’s pretty much what has surprised me! Nothing has really shocked me, Singapore’s a pretty cool place! Gorgeous ladies as well… haha!
Grant: The amount of unbelievable shopping!
Daniel: The night life has been surprising... food markets are a bustle late at night. What has also been a little strange is how many people are quite warm and friendly, yet many others are icy and unapproachable, but I guess home can be the same.
8) Favourite local sightseeing spots and dishes so far?
Emmanuel: I haven’t done a lot of sightseeing as yet, 'cause of work. But so far I like Chinatown. I can’t wait to go to the Bird Park and to Pulau Ubin.
Grant: Universal Studios! Lau Pau Sat and chicken satay!
Daniel: Favourite spots so far would have to be Takashimaya at Orchard Road, Lau Pa Sat at Raffles Place, and chili crab, though I’ve tasted some phenomenal dishes and unfortunately can’t remember what they're called!
Kenneth: So far I'd have to say Sentosa is my favourite place to go to and I'm battling to find a favourite dish in Singapore. Nothing has really communicated positively with my taste buds.
9) Have you picked up any local phrases, languages or dialects?
Grant: I'm terrible with languages!
Daniel: Embarrassingly I haven’t picked up any local language yet other than the ‘lah’ or ‘leh‘ thing at the end of a sentence.
Kenneth: Hahahahaha, i only learnt how to say "hello" in Chinese.
Emmanuel: Meh! Not too much lah! Still learning…
10) Who has tried durian? Who's game, and who absolutely won't go near it?
Daniel: I’ve tasted a durian ice-cream from Udders Ice-Cream Parlor, which they said was much like the real thing! It was awful! Though I will still try the real thing!
Kenneth: I was curious to try it, but Daniel kind of put me off. He told me he had and he will never do it again. So I've listened to him, hehe!
Emmanuel: Daniel tried a durian ice-cream and he hated it, so after his reaction, I’m a bit reluctant. But if I ate scorpion in Thailand, I’m sure a little durian won’t hurt! But as far as I hear it will certainly smell!
Grant: Our local producers are trying to organize that we do. I'm not so sure I will.
11) What's the one thing you MUST do before you leave our sunny island?
Kenneth: I don't know how to answer this, so I'll say this... I want to do EVERYTHING I can in Singapore!!!
Grant: Go to the oceanarium! I love the sea.
Daniel: I’ve gotta go to the zoo before I leave!! I’d also love to go to an island I heard about which is close to the airport side of Singapore. I really want to see more of the coastlines here.
Emmanuel: Marry a rich shipping magnate's daughter… haha.