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.

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