About Me

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
A long-time Toronto-area Actor and Singer, Jeff Madden is now focusing on Teaching acting and singing in the GTA. Jeff starred as "Frankie Valli" in both the Toronto and Australian productions of JERSEY BOYS, winning the DORA award for outstanding performance in a musical by a male actor. Jeff is busy back at school, getting his MEd at U of T's OISE.

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year's Eve

Wanna get a sneak peak of the Canadian Cast of JERSEY BOYS, LIVE ON TV?

You're in luck!

Yours truly will be front and centre as we ring in the New Year on CITY TV live from Nathan Phillips Square. We begin with Auld Lang Syne at Midnight, followed by 10 minutes of the most exciting Musical Theatre you'll see anywhere.

Catch us live, tape us on your PVR, DVR, and if you're still living in the 90's your VCR.
You don't want to miss it.

CITY TV's New Year's Eve Bash entertains up to 40,000 people live at Nathan Phillips Square, and it's live broadcast reaches up to 500,000 Canadians across the country. It begins at 10:30pm, and runs till about 12:30am. You don't want to miss the action at midnight!

The secret will really be let out Wednesday night. Everyone will know why this show is such a hit.

Monday, December 22, 2008

You want an update? Here, a Jersey Update.

Here we are, 10 shows in, and you're dying to know.

'Madden, how's it going NOW???', you ask.

In a word, Awesome.

The show is still a monster, still a major challenge just to get through in one piece, but now it seems do-able. What's more, it's starting to become enjoyable, rather than terrifying. (He said, half-joking.)

Don't get me wrong, I still screw stuff up, just about every show. I think I had one clean show, but in my books, until you do three or four clean shows in a row, you're still previewing. Which we're not really doing, but we still tell ourselves we are. Makes us feel better. More protected. I think it's fair. (BTW, I heard the major media all coming back to re-review the show mid-January, to compare the Toronto cast to the Touring production.)

Anyhoo, the biggest difference for me between show #1 and show #10 is that I have found places to breathe. Seriously. Those stupid-high falsetto notes come out easier if you actually have air in your lungs. Who knew? Yeah, when you relax just a bit, everything starts to work much better. Strange, that.

Another big difference is knowing how the crowd is going to react (or not react, as the case may be) at any given moment. After 10 shows we've pretty much seen and heard 95% of the probable reactions. (My 2nd year Stats class coming into play there... Parabolic curves, anyone?) This also helps me to relax a bit more, too.

Clearly, repetition helps everybody involved in the show tweak their business to make it better. It seems rather obvious, but the show becomes much more than the sum of its parts.

But, there's one more intangible at work here. Now, after 10 shows, I know I can do it. The show has this fabled split lead part - the Frankie's only do six shows a week, and an alternate does it twice a week. Ever since I heard about the show, I was aware of this. Nobody can do eight a week - it's too demanding. The guys who tried it all died horrible onstage deaths... well, maybe I'm exaggerating.

The point is, they drum it into your head that it's an impossibly difficult role, and that in the words of the original Broadway Frankie (Tony-award winning John Lloyd Young) you have to "live like a Monk" to pull it off night after night. But, the reality for me was, I worked my ass off like never before during my seven weeks of rehearsal, and at the end of the last week - the longest week of all, tech week - I did four shows in 48 hours and lived to tell the story.

With each passing show, everything - the scenes, the steps, the notes - has all sunk further into my body. I have to say, I'm really enjoying working with my incredibly talented cast and crew. And, the crowds have been incredibly enthusiastic - sometimes cheering mid-song, sometimes giving standing O's mid-show, sometimes tears flowing freely at the end.

It's such a great job, and I am so lucky to be doing it.
(*6 times a week)

Thanks to those of you who emailed me, or commented on the last blog. It's really nice to get feedback, especially from those of you who I don't know. Keep sending those post-show comments - I love hearing what you enjoyed most about the show.

Have a great holidays everyone! Raise one for me!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Thrilling Moments

Sunday Night, December 14, 2008

It's true. The Canadian production of Jersey Boys is officially "Open". (I use the quotes because we're still rehearsing a couple times a week on top of doing shows. In other theatres, this is called the "Preview" period.) And we're not just "Open", we're a Hit. Since Friday night, we have given four shows, and have received four Standing Ovations!

The past seven days have been a whirlwind. Heck, the past seven weeks have been crazy. It feels strange sitting here on the other side of it all. It's hard to communicate just how intense this time has been. We're on top of the mountain now, after all the blood, sweat and tears spent doing the daily climb, and it feels oddly unsettling. My head's still spinning from it all.

Don't get me wrong, it feels great to be performing now. More than great. Thrilling. It's just, the rehearsal period was so intense, that it seems strange not to be going back to the grind of 10- to 12-hour days.

I've never experienced such an all-encompassing rehearsal period in my life. One reason could be the slightly shortened rehearsal period. There are five other productions of Jersey Boys playing in the world, and none of them have been put up in six weeks. But we somehow managed to do it. (Kudos to us Canadians, eh!)

Another reason for my perceived vertigo is probably the size of my role - it's enormous. For those of you who haven't seen the show, I'll try to give you an idea. Other than intermission, I see my dressing room exactly once during the whole show, for about two minutes. There simply is not enough time off-stage to make the trip any other time. I have 11 full or partial costume changes in the wings, the fastest of which is seven seconds. Of the 19 songs in Act 1, I sing in 13. In Act 2, I sing lead on all 12 songs. I am onstage for all but three minutes of Act 2. The sheer amount of material I had to understand, learn, and then master was enormous.

I say 'master'. Well, that is open for interpretation. Sure, there are hundreds of things I nail every run. Whatever, that's expected of me. But, there are still plenty of things I get wrong every time we do a run. Most are imperceptible to the audience, thank goodness, but some are not. The key is instantly forgetting the mistake - it's in the past, you can't change it anyway, just go forward, get back on track. This is easier said than done, sometimes. But, it is the key. Stay in the moment, whatever the moment turns out to be. And I know that very soon, I'll be nailing every moment every night.

I must say, I was quite nervous for our first audience Friday night. Although we had done three or four solid runs in the rehearsal hall, we had only done one run with full tech and costumes in the theatre before our first show. Let me spell it out. We rehearsed in a rehearsal hall for five weeks, before moving into the theatre for four days of technical rehearsals. During tech, there are dozens of tiny little changes to the feel of the show. Spike marks change slightly for set pieces we move. Instead of a bright rehearsal room, everthing is now dark. Instead of hearing the rehearsal piano, we now have a full band being mixed through speakers and monitors. Sometimes you hear them great, other times you can barely pick out what key your in. Actors you've become accustomed to seeing as themselves, now have wigs on. Drinks are now used, instead of miming, or using water. Your own voice sounds different because we're all wearing microphones. Virtually each of our senses has been affected in this move from rehearsal hall into the theatre. So it's only natural for nerves to be a part of the equation. It takes the first few shows for all this to gel.

That being said, Friday night was a huge success. The cast was obviously primed and ready to finally do what we've been working so hard at, and there was definitely a palpable energy in the crowd. Applause flowed after the opening number ("Ces Soirees-La") was finished. On my first entrance (during "Silhouettes") - literally skipping and snapping across a catwalk - there were cheers. I definitely did not expect that, and it filled me with confidence. Ditto for the applause after I finished my first song ("I Can't Give you Anything But Love"). Five minutes in, and the amazing Jeremy Kushnier is getting all his laughs in our first scene together. This puts me at ease. After this, I can feel my breath settling deeper.

I screw up my first bit of choreography in "I Go Ape". It was bound to happen at some point, and I remember actually feeling relieved that it happened in that number, which is supposed to be funny anyway. But, I'm find myself tense again for my next song, "Moody's Mood For Love", which is one of the hardest in the show. I barely get through it without showing signs of the flop sweat that instantly came over me. Anyway, forget that. Move forward. Be in the Moment.

Things get back on track leading up to the first big moment in the play, "Sherry", the Four Seasons first Number 1 hit. The audience goes crazy. Seriously. I would describe what I heard as a 'roar'. That was the first thrilling moment of the night. "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Walk Like A Man" followed, with a few minor mis-steps on my part, but the crowd goes wild again. Thrilling moment #2.

A few minutes off stage, a few more scenes and songs, and I remember thinking the cast is really 'On' tonight. I can tell it's a special evening. You can feel it in the air.

Act 2 is like a 55-minute roller-coaster for me. Literally one thing after another. It's pretty much a blur in my mind right now, as it is when I'm actually doing the show. There's just zero time to think, to process how things went, what could be done better next time, what's coming up, what notes I got from the director for that scene - all the stuff that you can usually think about during the show. I remember nailing my little dance-break leading into "Beggin'". I remember the 'Sit-down' scene going really well. You could hear a pin drop. And of course, I remember the response to "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You". You want to talk thrilling? That was definitely Thrilling Moment #1, #2, and #3 all put together. I will never forget that moment. I was truly loving singing it to them, and they were loving hearing it. That's really cool.

Later in the act, I remember hearing sobs, sniffles, and tiny coughs during the "Fallen Angel" scene. That kinda threw me a little but, because its a private moment, when I'm at my most vulnerable. But, thinking back on it, it will be welcome to hear those sounds because it lets me know they are connected to my story. This moment goes right into "Rag Doll" which has to be the hardest song in the world to get right after doing the previous 30 minutes. On it's own, it's easy. But not in sequence. I remember making one or two obvious mistakes in the choreo. Whatever. I moved on.

The Final sequence with "Who Loves You?" and the Bows ("Oh What A Night, Reprise")were the cherry on top. Thrilling Moments #4 + #5. What a night, indeed! Standing ovations are never tiresome, as far as I'm concerned. They literally leaped to their feet. And stayed there, clapping and singing along.

After the show, we had about an hour of notes from the production team, to help us right the wrongs for the next show Saturday afternoon. And with each show, there is a different energy from the crowd. Different things are nailed, different things go awry. That's all part of the process of learning how to run this show in the theatre. I'm proud to say I did both shows Saturday and the Sunday matinee, and each one got a little bit better.

I am incredibly lucky to be playing this part, being in this Tony award winning show, and sharing the stage with so many multi-talented actors, singers, dancers, and musicians. I know that the Thrilling Moments are gonna keep on coming.

I can't wait to share this show with you all. Come see it soon. And for those of you who have seen the new cast, what are your favorite moments? Comment below.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jersey Boy

Hey Everybody,

So the worst-kept secret in town is no longer ...

I am thrilled to announce that I'll be playing Frankie Valli in the Toronto production of Jersey Boys! Our first show is Dec 12, 2008. Rehearsals are going extremely well as we gear up for opening.

The show is at the Toronto Centre of the Arts, 5040 Yonge St., just north of Sheppard Ave. It is just a 2-minute walk from North York Centre Subway Station.

Please check out Jerseyboystoronto.com for ticket information.

If you are planning to come see me in this show - and I highly recommend you do!!! - I want you to aware fo something...

***Please Note:
I will only be doing the evening shows, Tuesday through Saturday, plus the Sunday matinee. If you come to the Wednesday or Saturday matinee, Adrian Marchuk will be playing the part. It will still be a great show, I can absolutely guarantee it. You just won't be seeing me.

OK, friends, I hope to see you all there! Do send me a note when you're coming, and after the show stop by the stage door to say hi.

Take care, everyone.

How I Got To Jersey

So, how did it all happen? Details, I want details! Well, it’s a long story...


In late July, a casting notice came to my agent for upcoming auditions as “future replacements” for the various productions of Jersey Boys around the world. There was no time line for when a job might come up. This audition was basically for the producers of Jersey Boys to keep a long list of potential actors from which to choose replacements, if and when the time should arise. It’s pretty standard stuff with these long-running commercial shows.

My agent and I thought it would be a good idea to audition, thinking long term. Maybe next summer when I would be free, if things went really well something might come up. The audition notice said to prepare a song of my choosing, and I was sent about a million pages of scenes to prepare for the character ‘Frankie Valli'.

So, I auditioned. First auditions are always really nerve-wracking. You do hours and hours of prep-work on your own, with nothing but your own instincts guiding you. You could be on right track, or you could be completely off base. I was asked to sing first. I didn’t love how I sang, but afterwards they tested my range – waaaaayyyyy up high. Like crazy-falsetto high. I thought – ‘Hmm, that’s a good sign’. I got no feedback. Then I did a couple scenes with a reader. 'That went pretty well,' I thought. Again, very little feedback. Then, finally, “OK, thanks…”, and I left the room. So, I went home, back to work at the Shaw, thinking nothing of it.

The next day I get a call saying they want me to come back later in the week. They want to do a “work session” with me. I’ll be spending half-an-hour getting direction on the scenes and character work, and 20-minutes working on three songs from the show (Walk Like A Man, Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You, and Moody’s Mood). Oh yeah, and there’s a dance call, too. I remember thinking ,‘YES! This is a good sign!.

Then, I remember thinking, ‘UGHHHHH, Crap!’ Why a dance call??? I soooo love dance calls. They are so much fun. Too many guys thrown together into a room too small and too hot, trying to learn some choreography they’ve never seen before, and then performing this choreo in front of a panel an hour later. Even the memory of this makes me shudder.

Anyway, the work-session/dance call actually went well. I left that day feeling surprisingly upbeat. I got great feedback on the scenes and songs. And I didn’t fall over in the dance call. I felt, ‘Hey, maybe this thing could happen after all!’

The next day, back at Shaw, the phone rings. My agent Kish says "They want to fly you down to New York City to audition again, right away!" "That’s Awesome!!!" I say. "But, what for?" Kish explained that they were having some finals down there, and it seemed like I was being fast-tracked. Unfortunately, it turned out that I couldn’t make it - on the day of the audition, I had a 2-show day at Shaw. Ouch. I remember feeling really down. That one hurt.


About a month passed with no further word. Like before, I put it out of my mind… or at least I try to. Then, Kish calls with word of some final auditions in late September in Toronto. Same material as before, but for the original Broadway director. Oh, and another dance call, this time for the original choreographer. Yikes. I ask Kish, "But which production is it for – the US Tour, Chicago … Broadway?!?!?" "I don’t know. Nobody’s saying”, he replied.


The day comes. We do the dance call. Luckily, it’s the same steps as before. I don’t fall down. Phew. My audition time comes. I go in. Say hi. Do the same three songs. “Good.” Do a bunch of scenes, one after another. “Good.” Silence. I wait. Then, “OK, thanks…” That’s it, about 10 minutes, and I walk out of the room.

Afterwards, I start feeling elated, actually. It was over!!! And, I did everything exactly the way I wanted to! Sure, I didn’t get a lot of feedback, but that’s nothing new. Amazing, isn’t it? All that work comes down to a measly 10 minutes in the room. What a crazy business I'm in.

So, I get the part, right? Not quite. A few days pass with no news. We get some feedback that they really liked me. Kish and I think, ‘OK, mission accomplished. Next summer, we got a chance at a great gig.’

A few days later, Kish is on the horn again. "Jeff, they want you to go back to New York." "What the heck for?" "I don’t know exactly, but they want you to audition for Bob Gaudio." "But I thought I was being seen for Frankie Valli." "No, Jeff – the real Bob Gaudio from the Four Seasons wants to see you. Same material… Congrats." Gulp. It seems that the finals weren’t really finals after all. Seems like Mr. Gaudio has some casting authority. It's all good, though.

One week later, I’m in a Yellow Cab and the driver is right out of the Sopranos. A real Jersey boy, he’s hilarious. Tells me about his friends, one who he helps out with his addiction to prescription meds, another who he gives advice to when he calls from his bender gambling trips to Vegas. I take this guy as a good sign. He should be a character from the show.

I’m put up at a nice hotel on 45th, right in the heart of Manhattan. Swank. I sleep well. I enjoy my leisurely morning before getting ready to go. It's a beautiful day, so I walk the 20 blocks to the audition studio. All is right in the world. The audition goes well. Same deal, quick hellos, say hey to Mr. Gaudio, do the songs, do the scenes, and Bob’s your Uncle. -Ish. I walk out of there feeling really good.

I fly back to Niagara, do my two shows and wait. I figure, ‘if they’re going to all this trouble and expense, they must really be interested in me’. But where? When? Who knows?

A couple days later, it’s Kish again. "Well, what’s the news?" I ask excitedly. "You have to go back to New York, Jeff. This time, Frankie Valli wants to see you." "WTF?!?!" I exclaim. "Any idea for which production, where, etc?…" "Nope. Just have fun."


It’s the final week of my contract at Shaw, and as contemplate my future, I begin to dream about some well-earned time off. But a few days later, an interesting bit of information comes our way. It seems that the producers have officially decided to run a sit-down production of Jersey Boys in Toronto, to begin immediately after the touring production leaves town. Holy Crap. Now, it all starts to make sense.

Two days later, I’m back in NYC at the same hotel, eating the same breakfast, and walking to the same audition studio. But, this time, the nerves are different. I know what’s at stake. This is for all the marbles. It’s for Toronto. It’s for right now. It will very likely screw up my three upcoming contracts. And it could be the opportunity of a lifetime, if it works out.

My stomach is in knots. The audition starts 25-minutes late. And to make matters worse, the casting director wants us to read a paragraph of dialogue we’ve never done before. Finally, I go in. The real Frankie Valli is front and centre, staring at me. This must be really weird for him. He says something meant to make me feel at ease, but it doesn’t work. I feel like an imposter. ‘I don’t really know you’, I think. ‘I just learned some crazy high songs, and memorized some speeches. You’re gonna know I’m faking it.’

Crap! Time’s up. My mind is flitting about as I’m singing his songs. To him! I screw up a lyric here and there. ‘Jesus, man, hang on. You can do this,’ I tell myself. Somehow, I make it to the scenes. They go better. Maybe it’s because I have someone else to work off of. Phew! ‘Thank God there’s no dance call!’ I think. I walk out stirred, but not shaken. As I quickly change into my street clothes, I start thinking about how good that first drink is going to taste. (It was a Stella, and it tasted fabulous!!!).

When I get off the airplane, I turn on my phone. There’s a text from Kish. It has three words. ‘Offer coming tomorrow.’ Holy crap!!! I drive home floating on a cloud of Jersey goodness.

The week that followed was one of highs and lows, as it occurred to me just how quickly my life was going to change. First, my family has to move closer to Toronto. Second, we have to rent our house in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The other 500 things can get done later. Rehearsals are set to begin November 3rd. That gives me 17 days to move, find a tenant, and accomplish all these other tasks. What a crazy business.

BUT, wait... the craziness wasn't over yet! The week before rehearsals begin, I have to fly back down to New York again. And from there, I'm off to Nashville, TN for three days of work with the real Bob Gaudio and renowned voice coach Katie Agresta. We work through about a dozen songs from the show, trying to find a way in to make Jeff Madden sound like Frankie Valli without killing Jeff Madden. It's a work-in-progress of course, and an amazing experience.

Can this crazy ride get any crazier? Something tells me, this is only the beginning!

I guess this is what comes of

Monday, October 27, 2008



Well, sort of... It's official for me, just not for you yet.

In six weeks time, I’m going to be starring in a smash hit musical in Toronto. Unfortunately I can't write any more about it just yet. Although I have already started rehearsals, the company wants to make it's own casting announcement before I can tell you myself. Seems fair, doesn't it?

That's the good news. The bad news is, doing this show means I have to bow out of no less than three other engagements, which is a major bummer not only to me, but to the producers of those shows. I know for a fact that I’ve already been replaced by two awesome talents at Talk Is Free Theatre in Barrie for their upcoming productions of Kiss Me Kate and Variations on a Nervous Breakdown. Please, go see these shows – you will not be disappointed! And I’m sure that in the months to come, the same will unfold for The Boys in the Photograph in Winnipeg. I really, really wanted to do these shows. We tried very hard to work it out so I could do these shows and the new show, but it wasn’t meant to be. Unfortunately, sometimes these things happen in this crazy business.

I will have much more to say about the situation later, as soon as I'm given the green light. Meanwhile, I'll just say that my new and improved WEBSITE is almost ready to go. News about that will come soon, too.

Keep on Taking the Wheel, friends.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Well, folks, it appears I have something in common with Messrs Obama and McCain. I, too, pledge that CHANGE is coming! Here's an outline of the changes coming my way in the near future.

1. Upcoming Gigs

Yes, I've got some NEWS about some gigs I've got coming up this fall. Fans of Cole Porter might be interested to know that I'll be taking part in a Concert Production of KISS ME, KATE November 5 and 6 at Gryphon Theatre in Barrie, produced by Talk is Free Theatre.
Tim French will direct (we worked together on The Mystery of Edwin Drood at Shaw in 2001 and Lady, Be Good! at Manitoba Theatre Centre in 1999 - my first Equity show!). Ryan de Souza will lead the orchestra of 19 (!!!) and musical direct. Ryan and I have collaborated on at least 11 productions at Shaw over the last eight seasons, plus Playground at Talk is Free Theatre in Barrie in 2006.

Immediately after Kiss Me, Kate finishes, I begin rehearsals on a new and exciting piece of Canadian Musical Theatre called VARIATIONS ON A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN. It is basically a song-cycle for 4 actors written by (and will be performed by, too) actor/singer/composer Jonathan Munro. Jonathan is currently acting in his third season at the Stratford Festival. Other cast members include Chilina Kennedy (who also stars in Shaw's Wonderful Town) and Elizabeth Beeler (whom I worked with in Scott White's Dance of the Dead). The show will be directed by none other than Richard Ouzounian (yes, he who moonlights as the Toronto Star theatre critic) and Reza Jacobs is musical director. It'll run from November 27 through December 6th at this point at TIFT's Downtown Theatre in Barrie. I can't wait to sink my teeth into some of his fresh, contemporary musical theatre tunes. Exciting!

After these two shows, I hope to have some down time over the holidays. I love having time off over the Christmas season to hang with our extended families. But I have a few irons in the fire for some work early in the new year, and hope to squeeze in one more show before heading west to Winnipeg March 16. (For those of you who didn't see the article in Playbill.com about THE BOYS IN THE PHOTOGRAPH, and all the dish to follow, check my Blog Post immediately below this one!)

2. New Website Updates

Yes, I've got the fine folks at Indiepool putting together a fab new website for me. Indiepool is the company that manufactured my CD 'Taking The Wheel'. Their design of the cool 12-page booklet and the layout of the many gorgeous pictures made me so excited that I had to have them design the website. And with so many of you complimenting me on the CD, I'm sure you'll love the new website too. Should be done sometime this fall.

3. Family Changes

No, not another baby - don't get excited. But, to fill you in on the kid situation, Sydney turns TWO years old this week, and is beginning Montessori school soon! Her vocabulary continues to make me feel inadequate most days.
And baby Emily turns six months old next week. She smiles all the time, has begun exploring her voice with a few Da-Da-Da-Da's (which makes me VERY happy!) and is already starting to creep around a bit. What a pleasure these girls bring us each and every day.

4. Leaving Shaw

This is perhaps the biggest change coming my way. Surprisingly, it has been eight years for me with this company, proving the old adage true once again, 'Time flies when you're having fun'. My life has changed tremendously during these eight years. Since my first season, I have gotten engaged, bought a condo, gotten married, learned to play cricket of all things, had a baby girl, moved into a new house, had another baby girl... oh, I almost forgot... and done 16 Shaw Festival productions among countless other readings, workshops, and projects.

Sure, I've worked elsewhere six or seven times in the winter between seasons, but I always knew I was coming back to Shaw. Well, not this year. When I leave Shaw this October 5th, I have no idea when I'll be back. That gives me an odd feeling. In some ways, I feel as though I have grown up here, both as an actor and as a man. I know it probably sounds corny, but The Shaw does feel like my home. I have always looked forward to coming back each year, to see so many familiar faces and places, to feel the comfort and excitement of beginning a new artistic journey in the friendly confines of Shaw's rehearsal halls. I will certainly miss that. I'm sure I'll write more about this in later posts.

Now, don't get me wrong, people. Change is not a bad thing. It's necessary. It's healthy. It's exciting! I am about to begin a new chapter in the book of my life, and like reading a good book, I'm anxiously looking forward to turning every page, to find out what's going to happen next. It's a thrilling feeling, this anticipation of discovering the future.

After all, that's what Taking The Wheel is all about. If I'm not driving, who is?

Comments? Click it. You know you wanna.

BOYS in the NEWS

Hey Everyone,

For those of you who didn't catch it last month, a story promoting THE BOYS IN THE PHOTOGRAPH appeared in the mother of all Broadway theatre websites, Playbill.com.

Copy and paste this url into a new tab to read the full article entitled "Madden, McMillan and Peck to Star in Lloyd Webber and Elton's Boys in the Photograph": www.playbill.com/news/article/120410.html

Hmmmmm. This is a fascinating story. You may recall that my offer was to play the lead dude in TBITP in Winnipeg in April-May 2009, followed by a Toronto run in May-June. There were full-page colour ads in the newspapers advertising the show in the Mirvish season. Excited, I eagerly agreed. Then, things started to get, well, interesting. The contracts were slow to arrive. And when they did, they were quickly revised to eliminate the Toronto portion of the run. Meanwhile, the Toronto run of the show was still being advertised. Confused, we waited for answers, explanations, anything. None came. Nothing changed.

The popular sentiment was that maybe Mirvish had to pull out of the Toronto run because of their legal issues with their competitor, Dancap. But then this Playbill.com story appears August 13th, out of the blue, saying the show will play Toronto after all. But, no changes had been made to our contracts. Still confused, nobody I spoke to could figure out why this story ran when it did, nor why it still contained erroneous information.

Then, exactly one week later, the newspapers reported the court case between Mirvish and Dancap has been resolved in the Mirvish's favour. Meaning that they will go ahead with their purchase the Canon and Panasonic theatres, and program whichever plays they like. Good news! TBITP is going to play the Canon after all. Just like it says in the Playbill.com article, right?

Uh, not so fast, Mister. If one goes to the Mirvish website today (copy and paste this url: www.mirvish.com/ComingSoon/) it appears that their May-June show is none other than... RIVERDANCE! Huh?

It appears there may be other goings-on behind the scenes. I have some suspicions, but won't waste space on them here.

So, now what? These are the facts, as I know them. The Winnipeg run is still on. The Mirvish's are still co-producing TBITP with the Manitoba Theatre Centre, meaning they are throwing a bunch of money into the production. The Mirvish's still hold the rights to produce the show in Toronto, and apparently intend to do so. But nothing is set in stone.

OK. So, what am I going to do? Well, I actually decided months ago that I would go ahead and do the show anyway. I mean, in spite of all this crazy stuff, this is still a very good offer to play a great part in an exciting show with top-notch musical theatre artists. Trust me, these types of offers do not come along very often.

However, accepting it means I will not be back at Shaw next year, after eight consecutive seasons. It's taken quite a while, but after much soul-searching, I have come to peace with this decision. I believe getting this offer happened for a reason. I am ready to go wherever it takes me. Whatever happens, I know I'll land on my feet.

One thing's for sure, though. This story surely isn't over yet. I'd bet this journey continues to be very interesting!

Let me know what you think, friends. That little icon below that says "comments"... please use it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Good News, Bad News

It’s been a bit of a wild ride these past 10 days.

First, the Good:
A week ago last Saturday, we officially opened "Wonderful Town" to great reviews in all the major papers (NOT THAT I READ THEM). The sold out crowd was charmed into loads of laughs, making the evening a fun night for us on stage. We continue to run the show around four times a week through to October 5th, so plan to come on down to see it if you haven’t yet.

When I’m not running Wonderful Town, I was finishing tech rehearsals for "A Little Night Music". This past Sunday we did our first preview to an enthusiastic sold out house. Of course, it has been a lot of work, but learning this show has also been a fun and enriching experience . We have 15 more previews before our official opening July 4th, and each and every one of them is sold out! So, if you really want to see this show, book ahead!

Speaking of looking ahead, and proving that good news comes in threes, I will have the honour of singing in front of none other than Prince Edward. Yes, THEE Prince Edward. You know... 7th in line to the throne (I think). He’ll be in NOTL this weekend, and there is a function at which he will be entertained (or so we hope) by myself and four other Shaw folk. How cool is that? Actually, the Prince and I go way back. We met once before, in 1999 after a performance of “Emily” when he visited Charlottetown, PEI. After the concert I think we’re going bowling, then hitting the Angel for a few pints.

And now, here’s the Bad:
The Mirvish’s have backed out of the Toronto run of “The Boys in the Photograph”. This is the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Ben Elton musical that I was offered the lead in, which was to play in Toronto’s Canon Theatre after opening in Winnipeg. Well, it seems the Mirvish’s may be in a little legal trouble with another theatre producer, Dancap, over who runs the Canon. Dancap, the only other major commercial theatre producer in Toronto, is trying to block the Mirvish’s from using the space so that it can run its own plays there. Apparently they still hope to produce the show at some point down the road, but there is no guarantee of it happening.

So, it seems I have a major decision to make. I could still do the one-month Winnipeg run, and be a part of an amazing team debuting a new musical by a major composer, and then cross all my fingers and toes that there will be a future engagement of the show somewhere down the line. Or, I could turn this offer down and hope to be back at Shaw for a 9th season, where I have enjoyed myself immensely. I just can’t do both. It’s one or the other. It seems I have to make this major decision without knowing how it’s all going to work out. And it's not just me I've got to worry about these days. I've got to be on the lookout for Christine, Sydney and Emily too.

Ah, the life of an actor. You just never know how it’s all going to turn out. Good news, bad news, ups and downs. Just another week in the life. I can hear my Dad saying... “What? And quit show business?”

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Support Canadian Talent

Shawp Talk

Wonderful Town has been in previews for a while now, and has really hit its stride. People just love this show. They are warmed by the set and costumes, dazzled by the music, and finally overcome by it’s sweet story and sense of goodwill. That, and some amazing performances by the entire cast, led by the hilarious Lisa Horner. I am having a blast doing the comedy thing for a change. Our official opening night is 10 days away, May 24th. I’m told there are good seats available for performances through the end of June, but after that it gets tougher. So, book now and don’t be disappointed.

For a video with actual show footage, go to the following site, and click on the Video tab. It gives you all the info you need about our production: www.shawfest.com/web/content.asp?docid=1_3_2_1

When I’m not chewing the scenery in Wonderful Town - and believe me, I chomp away pretty good - you'll find me in rehearsal hall 3, working on A Little Night Music. The show is really coming along. The music is definitely a challenge to perfect, as is the complex staging of the show on the three-sided Courthouse stage. We are looking forward to moving into the theatre this Friday to begin technical rehearsals. June 1st is our first preview performance, with the official opening night July 4th. So, all you Sondheim fans, don't wait - A Little Night Music is the best selling show so far this season! Get your tickets now!

Field of Stars

I had so much fun last night. I had the privilege of singing in a concert celebrating the release of a new CD/Songbook called “Field Of Stars - Volume 2”. First, let me tell you about the book. The songbook is the second in a series dreamed up by Jim Betts, featuring 22 Musical Theatre songs written solely by Canadian composers. Included in the book is the sheet music to each song, plus two CDs. Disc 1 is a CD of all the songs recorded by various "stars" of the genre (including me, of course), and Disc 2 is a CD of just the piano accompaniment, so you can fire up the karaoke machine and sing along at home. It’s a great idea for any actor just starting out, or who is looking for new audition repertoire, or for any fan of canadian music who wants to listen to a kick-ass compilation of songs and/or play along on the piano.

So, this past fall I had the privelege to record two songs for the Songbook, and last night I got to sing them live at Statlers, a club downtown Toronto. The songs come from two shows very close to my heart : “One Face” from Tristan with composer Paul Sportelli accompanying me, and “Disappointed House” from Emily with composer Marek Norman at the piano. I am thrilled to say that both songs went over extremely well! It was so exciting - you could have heard a pin drop in the packed club. Actually the entire event was such a hit that they had to turn people away. Many people were forced to stand out on the sidewalk, listening through the open windows and doors. It was quite an inspiring night, to be surrounded by so many talented supporters of Canadian Musical Theatre.

If anyone is interested in buying a book, go to this site for a bunch of information: http://northernriver.com/FOS2Preview.html. I believe you can buy it at Theatrebooks and Song and Script in Toronto, two stores that coincidentally also carry my CD, "Taking The Wheel". And if you haven't picked that up yet, get on it already! There are 14 beautiful tracks of musical theatre and pop songs with all new arrangements. It's really fine stuff. Actually, the easiest way to buy my CD is through my website www.jeffmadden.ca, or if you're in town to see a show, pick it up at the Festival Theatre Shaw shop. If you must, download it on iTunes. But if you do, you won't get the lovely 12-page booklet with lots of beautiful photos and information on why I chose each song. Trust me, the booklet really completes the package.

Support Canadian musical theatre talent! And, you'll have the added bonus of knowing that you helped put my kids through university. Well, daycare, anyway. Cheers, everybody.

The New 'Normal'

Lately, it seems like every post begins with an apology for not writing more often! The last post I wrote was exactly seven weeks ago today. I remember the day so well, because it was the day of Emily’s birth. I was so euphoric that day that I just had to post a photo and the good news right away. You see, tiredness had not yet crept in. Exhaustion was still around the corner. Collapse was several weeks away. In the meantime, whenever I even thought about blogging I began to laugh at the absurdity of that idea. Life has been such a blur. As you might imagine, having a newborn and a toddler and a 6-day-a-week job acting, singing and dancing takes a lot out of you. But I think we have now started to understand the new 'normal'.

Sleep. Hmmm, how can I put this... I really miss it. I miss being able to come home from work, maybe have a drink, relax, and finally hit the pillow knowing that eight hours later, I’ll gently wake up feeling wonderfully rested. These days, it’s a really great night when we get six hours of semi-interrupted sleep. On not-so-great nights, it’s more like four or five. After a week straight of crappy sleep you start to become some other person. Someone who bumps into things, mumbles two-word answers, and ceases to find anything funny. It’s rough a lot of the time. But somehow, we make it through.

We do, because in spite of everything, it’s unbelievably amazing.
Holding Emily as she squirms to find just the right position in my arms before falling asleep gives me an incredible feeling of joy.

And taking Sydney for a walk to the park these days is an amazing experience, listening to her say things like “Where are you, school bus?” and “Hi squirrel!” and “Oh Boy, the slide!”. These and a hundred other simple things a day give me such a sense of pride and contentment that it’s nearly impossible to describe. Crazy. And so, on we go stumbling around with smiles on our faces...

At this point I have to say that my incredible wife Christine is doing an amazing job holding it all together, managing motherhood with skill and grace. She got her great mothering instincts from her mom Ilse, just as I learned everything I know from my mom Jody. Happy Mother’s Day again to you three great ladies. There is no job more demanding than being a mother. What an undertaking. Thank you for doing such a great job, and for being such awesome grandparents.

Now, when can you come down to babysit???

Monday, April 7, 2008

Jeff in The Toronto Star today

Hey Everyone,

Guess how surprised I was to see my picture in the Toronto Star today? Plenty.

The unedited article is at http://www.thestar.com/comment/columnists/article/410890

An edited bit of the article appears below. In the actual newspaper, there's a nice picture of me by David Cooper that accompanies the article, but it doesn't show up online.


Sudden Spring Awakening

Apr 07, 2008 04:30 AM
Richard Ouzounian
Theatre Critic


It also seems Shaw is proving a propitious place for its young actors these days. Three recent or current company members are all currently facing sunny scenarios.

Jeff Madden, star of last season's Tristan and still with the company this year, has reportedly landed the leading role in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton's The Boys in the Photograph, which the Mirvishes will be presenting next season."

Just to set the record straight, it is true that I have been offered the male lead in the show. However, my agent and I have not even begun contractual negotiations with the theatre producers. So, it is not a done deal yet. Far from it, actually.

I am very excited about the prospect of doing this role in this show next year. I hope that negotiations move ahead smoothly, and I fully expect to make an official announcement soon. 2009 could be a very interesting year indeed.

For more information, check back here in the coming days.

Until then, keep on Taking the Wheel.

Monday, March 24, 2008

New Baby News!

Today was the day!!!

And in this corner, weighing in at an intimidating 8 pounds 12 ounces, measuring over 21 inches tall, in the pink trunks and knitted cap concealing a shock of black hair, Emily Rose Madden!!!

Yes sir, at 5:34am Monday, March 24, 2008, Emily Madden became a citizen of Planet Earth. Both Mother Christine and baby Emily are doing extremely well, resting at home. I couldn’t be happier with my amazing wife and two fantastic girls by my side.

Big sister Sydney, who is just 18 months old herself, is very sweet towards her new little sister. She asked me to pass this note along to you all on her behalf: “It is with prodigious delectation that I welcome Emily into our family unit. With firm conviction, I believe she will possess the facility, willingness and initiative to be an expert servant to my each and every whim, as any younger sister should. Peace out.” Wow, those Baby Einstein DVDs are really paying off, huh?

But seriously folks, it has been a bit of a struggle for us these last few months. As some of you know, Christine had a tougher time with this pregnancy than with the first. Basically, with her being unable to work and care for Sydney full-time, we were extremely fortunate to have the love and support of both of our families for extra help. But, an extra loud shout out must go to Christine’s mother Ilse. We couldn’t have made it through with your tremendous help. Thank you sooooo much to all the Maddens and Bajins!

"So, give me details, Madden! How did it happen?" Well, the discussion begins and ends with Christine. She is Superwoman. Not only did she have the consideration to go into labour on my day off, she was extremely efficient. The labour and birth were finished in near-record time (you won’t believe me, so I won’t bother telling), she ate, rested, recovered, and walked out of the hospital by 5pm. Not bad for a day’s work. Keep in mind, Emily weighed almost nine pounds. Like I said, Christine is Superwoman. Oh, and we’re seriously considering changing Emily’s middle name to Torpedo.

For now, we will take it a day at a time at Christine’s family's home in Oakville. In a couple weeks, we will move back home to Niagara, and try to get back to normal. Whatever the heck that is.

Lucky for me, being sleep-deprived will suit my klutzy awkward character in Wonderful Town just fine. If I happen to incorporate slurring speech and narcolepsy into the mix - no one will know the difference! But, I think I’m screwed in A Little Night Music, which starts rehearsal in a week. Those high B-flat’s scare me - there’s no faking that in rehearsal. Holy crap. One way or the other we will get through this! What a memorable summer it is going to be!

Oh, and stay tuned for thousands of ridiculously sappy baby pictures!!!!

And, with that, in Sydney’s words, Peace Out.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wonderful Shaw

Greetings to my Taking The Blog devotees! I trust you have all had exciting winters and like me, have come out of hibernation full of energy, ready to Take the Wheel of your lives yet again. Here’s the latest news from all things Madden.

Well, we are already one month into my current season at the Shaw Festival. That’s number eight, for all of you counting out there. Seriously, time does fly when you’re having fun. As I mentioned on a previous blog post, this season I will appear in the musicals Wonderful Town and A Little Night Music.
Wonderful Town starts preview performances in two weeks, and we’ve been busy putting the show together in the rehearsal hall. And so far, things have definitely been Wonderful. With a capital W. (Insert snap here.) The show tells the story of two sisters from Ohio who leave their humdrum lives at home to “make it” in New York City, circa 1935. One is a plain-looking writer, one is a pretty actress, and they meet all sorts of interesting people (read: nut bars that only exist in Musicals, of which I play one) as they gradually succeed in their endeavors.

I must admit, upon first reading the script last year, the show seemed a bit ... oh, I don’t know... bland. But, let me tell you, I was wrong! To me, the show is a perfect afternoon or evenings diversion, full of heart, warmth, and generosity of spirit. I can’t imagine an audience member not enjoying him/herself, not smiling, or not getting on board inside the first half hour. After that, though, its complete crap -- No! Just kidding. It’s just a really sweet show, sure to please the crowds.

Rehearsals started as they always do at Shaw with a focus on learning the music. Although I had not heard any of the tunes before, I was surprised at the number of beautiful melodies and gorgeous harmonies, fitting together perfectly with the witty lyrics. For you Shaw history buffs (or, basically for you, Mom and Dad, who come to every show I’m in 23 times), Wonderful Town lyricists Comden and Green also wrote the lyrics for Shaw’s unforgettable 2003 production of On the 20th Century. Who could forget the image of Bridget Robinson’s religious wing nut hanging on for dear life to the front of the train? Wonderful Town’s Music composer is Leonard Bernstein, the composer of West Side Story’s classic score. Who could forget seeing me onstage with the ballet at the Opera House this past winter doing West Side Story Suite? Oh dear, the ballet. My woo-woo still has the boo-boo from the tu-tu. But I digress...

Back to the program. The other great joy so far has been playing Frank Lippencott, the manager of the Walgreen’s drugstore on 44th Street. Frank is the type of guy who, upon first meeting is totally normal and sweet, the kind you’d bring home to Mom. Then, as you get to know him, you find out he’s a FREAK! My, how I have embraced my inner geek, my inner klutz, my inner awkwardness. I know what you’re all thinking... Inner? My ass! I am an awkward geeky klutz! Huh... What do you know anyway?

So, yeah, that’s about it for now. Do plan on coming to see Wonderful Town this summer - it’ll only play 643 times, so book ahead!!! And when you do come, please send me a note either before your trip or during the show. I always like to know who’s in the crowd. There will be more updates to come, as we get into previews of Wonderful Town and rehearsals of A Little Night Music. You can count on me to keep you posted.