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.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Autumn in New Jersey

Hello Everyone. So sorry to keep you waiting like this.

Man, there has been a lot of stuff going on lately. Between doing the show, doing the publicity events and extra rehearsals, and spending some time with my wife and kids, there's barely been time to sleep, let alone write about it all!

But, life is good these days. I'll try to catch you up with a quick recap of everything.

Most of October passed with a few interviews and a lot of fun, including our first fashion show! It's worth a look - FASHION SHOW

One awesome event of October was celebrating the actual one-year anniversary of my first day of work on Jersey Boys. Back on October 28, 2008 I was down in Nashville, meeting original Four Season Bob Gaudio in a glorious recording studio. Talk about culture shock. I just finished working at the Shaw Festival doing a couple of more traditional musicals, and had no idea what I was in for. Luckily I also met Katie Agresta, singing teacher to the stars, who was there to help me navigate the technical hills and valleys (no pun intended) in the score. Here I am one year later, singing better than ever, thanks in no small part to my weekly singing lessons with Katie. Makes me feel great thinking about how far I've come.

In early November the cast, musicians and crew all celebrated the first anniversary of our rehearsals in style atop the CN Tower. It was an awesome night. I remember our first day of rehearsal as a full cast - we had a meet and greet, a few brief introductions and speeches, then sat down to read through the script start to finish in the rehearsal hall. It was very exciting - and nerve wracking of course. I remember Jeremy Kushnier starting it off as 'Tommy Devito' giving a full volume performance at 10 in the morning, setting the bar mighty high. By leading by example, Jeremy and his wife Jenny Lee Stern, our original Mary, a lot of credit for making this Toronto as strong as it is. Man, I miss those two! Here's hoping I can tell you about our 2nd year anniversary!

A cool little project that kind of dropped into my lap was being asked to be a part of "Canadian Heroes", a single created to help celebrate the Canadian Forces. I was asked to sing on the song after the song writers came to see Jersey Boys and approached me afterwards. What a hoot. Normally it's my Mom and Dad meeting me at the stage door. All they offer me is dinner. And a place to crash. And unwavering love and support. OK - so maybe it's a trade-off.

Anyhoo, go to WWW.CANADIANHEROES.CA and check it out. Click on 'contacts' to see all the amazing Canadian rock and roll talent involved in the project. There's a video there, too, which is not to be missed. But the best place to get info is their Facebook group. There's over 3000 fans! If you feel so inclined, order a copy of the single. All the proceeds go directly to the troops.

The Fall held a few other surprising experiences for me up it's sleeve. I had the honour of singing the National Anthem at Canada's Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies. This years honourees included superstars Mark Messier and Warren Moon, who I watched excel in their sports on TV countless times as a kid. The event was first class all the way, with the who's who of Canadian Sports world - athletes, coaches, television and media personalities filled the huge room.

Aside from singing the anthem - which was way more nerve-wracking than I imagined, since I was standing about a foot to Messier's left - my brother Joel and I got to meet so many high achievers. It was so inspiring. OK - I'll drop some names: Aside from meeting Mark Messier and Warren Moon, I hung out with Paul Beeston and Alex Anthopoulos of the Toronto Blue Jays, met Olympic Gold Medalists Marnie McBean and Angela James, and several media members including Brian Williams and Dave Hodge. It was an awesome night.

In early November the four Jersey Boys - Michael, Dan, Quinn and I - were asked to be a part of a cute little TV spot for an important cause. Raising The Roof is a charity that raises awareness and funds for Youth Homelessness across Canada. It was nice to be asked to be a very small part of something bigger than just providing entertainment. I hope that we can team up with other charitable causes and do some real good, as we did raising over $20,000 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Go to WWW.RAISINGTHEROOF.ORG for more information. Here's the link to the 30-second clip: 30-sec AD

Finally, I want to say thanks to a brilliant actor who runs a top drawer theatre company in Toronto, my good friend Avery Saltzman. Avery asked me and the boys if we would perform at a fundraiser for his company, the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company. Of course we said yes, and put together a great couple songs - the Sinatra hit A Very Good Year and (of course) an Andrews Sisters hit, Bei Mir Bistu Shein, complete with a 'dance off' between Avery and I. It was, um... special, to say the least. The whole event was first class all the way, hosted by Colin Mochrie and Deb McGrath, and featuring Brent Carver, Michael Burgess, Sharron Matthews and so many more, we were in really good company. Thanks again, Avery. (BTW, his company's website is WWW.HGJEWISHTHEATRE.COM).

More to come soon, readers. I promise.

Monday, October 5, 2009

September Song

What's been going on lately with 'Jersey Boys, Great White North' edition?

The highlights:
*** Jersey Boys Toronto and their audiences helped raise over $22,000 for the CIBC Run for the Cure in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. We did a short gig in front of easily 10,000 people at the race- and it went great. Enjoy the video! Click here:RUN FOR THE CURE MEDLEY VIDEO

*** We'll be appearing in a fashion-show of sorts on CITYLINE, CITY TV's morning program this WEDNESDAY, October 7th, 10am on CITY TV - check your local listings. It's my debut as a fashionista. Not to be missed.

On top of our regular 8 shows a week, here's the extra stuff that happened to keep us busy since the last blog post:
August 27th - Photo shoot for H. Halpern Esq., a fashionable upscale menswear store. They saw the show and loved what they saw - the costumes especially. It reminded them of their new line of fall clothes, so they made a few phone calls and decided to use the four of us guys (Me, Quinn, Dan, and Michael) as models for their Fall catalogue. Check out their website... um, they have a 'Mailing List' section ... I'm just saying... Click Here for H. HALPERN ESQ.

September 1st - Globe and Mail interview. It appeared in an article in the September 24th issue, in a special Performing Arts Pullout section. I can't find it online, however, so you'll never lay your eyes on it. But, rest assured, I was brilliant.

September 5th and 6th - I was graciously given Saturday and Sunday the 5th and 6th off from Jersey Boys to attend the funeral proceedings for my grandfather. With the Labour Day holiday, I had four days off in a row.

September 9th - Back to work. The show on the 9th was particularly hard for me. I didn't realize just how emotionally drained the funeral proceedings had left me. I wrote an entire blog post about the events of that night. It's called "A Fallen Angel", and it is below this one. Please check it out.

September 15th - Live TV Interview on CH Morning, channel 11's Breakfast News program. It was a fun five minutes of chit chat on a striking orange couch about Jersey Boys. They even ran the B-Roll of our cast doing Sherry. I'll try to get a copy online for you asap.

September 17th - My daughter Sydney's 3rd Birthday. I now have less than 10 years to live worry-free. God help me.

September 21st - About 30 Jersey Boys Toronto family members take in the Jays Game vs. the Orioles. My buddy O's starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie pulls some strings and gets a bunch of us Field Passes before the game. It was awesome. Kid in a candy store. Among others, I chat a bit with Aaron Hill, Kevin Millar, and perhaps most impressively Buck Martinez, yes, that Buck Martinez - former Jay Catcher, former Jay Manager, and current ESPN Colour commentator. He regailed us all with the events of his career-ending collision at home plate where he single-handedly tagged out two runners at home plate on the the same play with a BROKEN LEG. Someone has to find it on You Tube and send it to me. It's unbelievable.

September 24th - Another 30 - this time, a bunch of us celebrate our 'Nick Massi' Michael Lomenda's 30th birthday in style by hitting the Spoke Club all night after our show. The 'Mad Men'-inspired theme made it extra fun.

September 25th - We have a costume fitting for our "Cityline" TV appearance - coming up this Wednesday! Don't miss it - I believe it's on at 10am on CITY TV. We were wearing new duds from RW & Co.

September 26th - Baseball fever strikes once again, as I go to my last game of the year. The thrill to this game, aside from going with my good friend and huge ball fan Marisa, was to spend a few innings in the Fan 590 Radio Booth, watching the game be broadcast live by Jerry Howarth, Alan Ashby and Mike Wilner. Jerry and Marisa go back a long time, and Jerry and I met a few years back. He was incredibly kind to make us this offer. In return, he'll be seeing Jersey Boys again (his 2nd time) this very Tuesday night.

September 29th - This week we start collecting money in the lobby after each performance for the CIBC Run For The Cure in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. We are performing live at the Run's closing ceremonies on Sunday Morning, when Tommy Devito will give them a big duffel bag full of money.

On a side note, going out into the lobby at the end of the show was great. It was truly amazing seeing the generosity of the audience members. But also, seeing the joy on their faces at the end of the show and hearing their incredibly supportive comments has really re-invigorated us. We usually don't get to see how the show affects people immediately after the show. It was very insightful.

September 30th - We film the Cityline TV spot live before a studio audience. Had to be there for 9:15am - awfully early after doing a show the night before. But, hey, that's show biz. It was actually quite a lot of fun. I can't wait to see it on TV tomorrow.

October 1st - Our final rehearsal for the Run for the Cure gig. It's a full cast medley of Sherry, Big Girls Don't Cry, Walk Like A Man, and Oh What A Night (December '63). I am not loving singing this crazy high stuff at 10am after the Saturday night show. But, hey, that's Show Biz...

October 4th - We do the Run for the Cure gig in front of easily 10,000 people - and it goes great. AND, we donate over $22,000 from our incredible audience members in one week!!!! Unbelievable. It is truly thrilling to see so many people coming together to fight for a cause. I hope Jersey Boys can do more of this in the future. Enjoy the video! Click here:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Fallen Angel

I wanted to share with you, Dear Readers, the details of an interesting experience I had last month. Something unusual happened to me in the middle of a show that I'd never experienced before.

As a bit of back-story, this past August 31st, my grandfather Larry Bensette ('Pepe' to the family) passed away, at the vibrant young age of 92. He was a pretty amazing man, having lived the last 10 years of his life independently in his own home, driving himself around, playing the odd piano gig, and going on dates with his lady friends. We should all be so lucky, really.

Nonetheless, his death was unexpected. He suffered a fall down exactly 2 steps, breaking a hip. The resulting surgery and therapy ended up being too much for his body to recover from.

I have always felt a deep bond with Pep. We saw so much of him throughout the various stages of my life, and aside from bearing his name as my middle name, I felt that he gave me an awful lot of the musical talent I have. Surely, the style that I play jazz piano is almost exactly his.

Barely one week before his fall, Pep had made the trip to Toronto to see Jersey Boys. It was a special occasion to be sure. My Mom and her two sisters were all there, with their husbands in tow, and it had the air of a real special event for everyone. The show was great that night, and when I met them in the lobby after the show, my mom and two Aunts were singing along to the Four Seasons music being pumped through the speakers, as loud as could be!

As they sang and bopped along, Pep just beamed, ever the proud father and grandfather. Later, over a drink, he asked me many probing questions about the show, especially how the music was played, who played live onstage, where the microphones were positioned, how the sound was mixed, etc... I answered the best I could, marveling at how sharp he was at his age. I felt proud, as I often do when large groups of family come together to see a show of mine, that I was the reason for this reunion and these great memories.

When I heard about his fall and subsequent heart attacks, I grew weary. I tried not to think about his plight as I carried on to do my show night after night, figuring he'd make a recovery. But it was business as usual for me.

Two weeks after the fall, he finally passed away peacefully with my mother there at his side.

I was graciously given Saturday and Sunday September 5th and 6th off from Jersey Boys, and with the extended two-day break for Labour Day, I had four days off in a row. Everyone gathered together in Windsor to attend the funeral proceedings. My brother Chris and his family flew in from Japan, some Aunts, Uncles and cousins flew in from Michigan, Calgary, and Northern BC, and friends and family all came too.

Everyone gathered at his house. It turned out to be a great family reunion, in spite of these sad times. The funeral was touching, the reception heart-warming, the burial beautiful. I sang a few songs in the proceedings, and was glad to do so.

Now, to the point of this blog post:
On September 9th, I was back to work. My body was rested, my brain was sharp, and I was eager to be back at work. I was excited to have a few family members in the house that night too. In my dressing room at the places call I dedicated the show to Pep. Although I had my normal pre-show routine and felt great, the show that night became particularly hard for me.

Although my brain was focused and the lines were exactly right, my voice tired unusually fast that night. I was getting raspy and battling the falsetto from the middle of Act 1 right through to the end of the show. When I began to sing "Fallen Angel", something occurred that has never happened to me before. Tears welled up in my eyes almost immediately. Only seconds later, after singing the first few lines of the song, I simply lost my breath. I mean, I literally could not take a breath. I was completely overwhelmed.

Now, as most of you know, the scene preceding "Fallen Angel" is when Frankie learns that his daughter Francine has died. And during the song, while Frankie sings the words he would say to Francine if she could come back to life, her ghost visits him for a moment.

Well, there I was. Sitting on the bench. Tears in my eyes, without a breath of air, in a tight spotlight on a bare stage with almost 1700 people staring at me. I clearly heard the band continuing to play, I could see the conductor waving her arms on the TV monitor, yet I still couldn't make a sound. It was the strangest thing.

On one hand, it felt like an eternity, and under normal circumstances something like this would make any actor freak out. But surprisingly, I wasn't nervous. I never felt scared or worried. In fact, I felt unusually calm.

I think the silence lasted exactly four bars, or about 12 seconds. Then all of a sudden -- like literally in one millisecond -- I just started singing, as though I had never missed a note, right at the top of the second verse. I finished the song without incident and carried on through the rest of the show -- a bit shell-shocked, but otherwise without a word out of place.

After the show, I was initially disappointed in myself. I'm a perfectionist, so I hate making mistakes, and was embarrassed that I made made such an obvious error. I felt as though I been unprofessional by letting my personal life interfere with the show too much.

Well, upon much reflection, I learned a few things about that night. First, I learned that grieving and mourning are incredibly powerful states of being. Without you even noticing, they can profoundly zap you of your vitality, leaving you emotionally fragile. Second, I discovered just how strongly the act of singing taps into your emotional core. And lastly, although I will never be able to prove it, and as kooky as it may sound, I believe that my Pepe visited me on that bench that night.

Oh, and I'm not embarrassed or disappointed anymore for 'forgetting' to sing those four bars. I've come to the realization that this event was an important life lesson that I was fortunate enough to learn. In that moment, I gained wisdom and clarity; about myself, about the nature of emotion, and the mystery of death. I mean, isn't that the goal of living? To learn? To make progress? To feel, and comprehend and grow?

I won't soon forget this lesson. I have the memory imprinted on my soul now. Forever.

I'm curious - I wonder, did any of you happen to have been in the audience that night? If you were, I would love to hear from you. I know some of you have seen the show many, many times and would notice a moment like this as being unique. And, anyone else who'd like to share some of their thoughts and experiences in relation to this, feel free to do so. I know we often don't talk about these things because it can be a bit uncomfortable... but it could be really neat to share on this topic.

Thanks for listening, everyone.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

2 Videos, An Interview, and An Article

Hey Everybody,

I thought I'd re-post some links to 2 Videos, An Interview and An Article, as the title of this post so aptly (and subtly) suggests.

You may have seen/heard all these before, especially if you check out my website regularly... I always post everything in the NEWS section of www.jeffmadden.ca.

Just as a reminder, I update my personal schedule and exciting Jersey Boys Toronto events there regularly, as well as link all the content there too. So, if anybody asks where to see this stuff, just send them to my website.

Enough plugs... The links are below...

Lucy Zilio - 2-minute video: Click Here

Lucy Zilio - 30-second video: CLICK HERE

Spider Jones CFRB Radio Interview with Jeff: SPIDER INTERVIEW

Broadway World.com's 1-year Anniversary Article: BROADWAYWORLD.COM

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Some Summer

And now, the understatement of the year: It's been a busy summer for this Jersey Boy.

Before I get into everything, here's some news for you:

* JERSEY BOYS Toronto just celebrated its One-Year Anniversary! More on this story at the bottom.

* JERSEY BOYS Toronto has recently been extended until the end of November! So, get over to www.jerseyboystoronto.com (the link is over on the right) or call Dancap at 416-644-3665 and get your tickets now. With any luck, we'll keep on going and going and going...

* There are 7 NEW VIDEOS on my website for you to check out. (The link is over on the right) If you haven't been over there in a while, do yourself a favour and check those videos out! Go to www.jeffmadden.ca and from the homepage, click "NEWS".There's the "ETALK Daily" video, National Anthem Videos, and 2 videos featuring our new "Sherry" B-Roll footage. My performance schedule is there too, so you can see that I'll be off September 5th-6th and 12th-13th.

OK - hit the rewind button - you want to know what's been keeping us so busy? The rest of this post spells it out for you. And remember, these events are all in addition to the eight (well, six in my case) shows we do every week.

June 7th - My radio interview on the FAN 590AM comes out. Check it out here if you like. It's about eight minutes long. Once you get to the link, click on Audio Archives in the menu on the left, the "Jeff Madden interview" is 6th down of the list. FAN 590AM Interview

June 26th - Four cast members play a round of golf with some lucky winners of a Father's Day Contest sponsored by Jersey Boys and the Toronto Star. I discover that spending five hours in the hot sun before a show is a bad idea.

June 29th - THE DORA AWARDS. I win my award, and all is right with the world. It was a stunning night, one that will always remember. I covered it at length in an earlier blog post, so check it out there.

Canada Day, July 1st - CHIN PICNIC. Eight cast members kick off the opening ceremonies with an a capella version of O Canada. Check out the CITY TV video here or on my website. CHIN Anthem/Interview VIDEO

July 7th - I do an interview with Mad Dog, the energetic morning host at VIRGIN Radio 99.9FM. He raved about the show on air so much, I hardly got a word in edgewise!

July 8th - The Oakville Beaver article finally gets online. Check it out if you like.
Oakville Beaver Article

July 10th - I do an interview with CKOC, a London Radio station. We talk about the 'gas card' promotion to help get visitors down the 401 and QEW highways to see the show.

July 11th - I get the honour of singing the National Anthem at the Roger's Centre for the CFL's Toronto Argonauts Home Opener. Solo. This was a real thrill, as I am a huge sports fan and have heard countless singers sing the anthem at sporting events.Memories of the day include chatting with the Offensive Line Coach on the field a couple hours before game time, getting a nice handshake from Head Coach Bart Andrus just before I started, and after I finished singing, being surprised by a kiss on the cheek by a notorious 'Kissing Bandit', the Argos' 275-pound Adriano Belli. He kinda scared me a bit, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Argo Anthem VIDEO

July 17th - I do an Interview for Toronto's freebie Newspaper 'Metro' about my freaking car of all things. Madden's Roadrunner Article We also had an extra rehearsal today.

July 22nd - Interview with Classic Rock Radio Station 103.9FM

July 23rd - A live phone interview with morning host Ralph Benmergui on Jazz FM 91.1

July 30th - The four boys all head off to a Toronto Recording Studio to record the Audio for our new commercial. It's called the "B Roll" and its only to be used on News broadcasts. We spent a couple hours hammering out "Sherry" over and over and over. Nevertheless, it was great fun to gain the experience of being in the recording studio essentially doing what the Four Seasons did.

July 31st - Another rehearsal, this time for the upcoming "Taste of the Danforth" performance.

August 6th - Another rehearsal, this time a Dance clean-up with our choreo-guru Danny Austin.

August 7th - We spend the afternoon filming the Video for our new "B Roll" commercial. We're onstage at the TCA, full costumes, set, lighting etc, only now we are filming shot by shot, 10 seconds here, 20 seconds there, and trying to match the audio that we recorded at the studio the week prior. It was very tiring, but ultimately, a lot of fun. Four hours of hard work for a 2-minute slot.

Aug 8th - I do a live radio interview with Spider Jones on CFRB 1010AM in the middle of one of Toronto's most famous streets, Danforth Avenue. It was about 30 minutes, with people walking by and listening in, and Spider was totally playing the crowd. He exudes such a positive energy and was so jazzed about Jersey Boys. I loved being around that amazing guy.

That night, MLB Pitcher Jeremy Guthrie and some of the Baltimore Orioles staff came to the show, and afterward we all hung out together. This was Jeremy's 3rd time seeing us, and it was a pleasure to spend time with him again. This time he brought more gifts - I got a Oriole Ball Cap, a signed picture and another ball. And, an invite to Batting practice the next day. He's the best.

Aug 9th - I join Quinn and Michael on the field at the Roger's Centre in the morning before the Jays/Orioles Game. For me, this is the best. Baseball was my first love, and here I'm truly living out my boyhood dreams. Chatting with ballplayers, hearing the crack of the bat from the cage, feeling the rush. Afterward, Jeremy hands me a glove and we actually play catch right there on the field behind home plate. It was unbelievable. And to top it off, I meet the Orioles Manager, Pitching coach, and get a tour of their clubhouse before hopping into a cab to take me to the theatre for the show.

After the matinee, we quickly get into a van and head over to the "Taste of the Danforth" for our 10-minute live performance. This was the end of a really long week. With all the extra stuff and the six shows, I was really tired. And to top it off, it was really hot and humid that day. And of course, the medley is all the big hits back to back to back, with no rest for me. I basically swallowed the mic and screamed it out. There was not a lot of nuance. Ah well, the trials of being a Rockstar. It was pretty cool though, seeing hundreds of people gather around the stage, dancing and cheering along.

August 14th - Another Rehearsal, this time with our incredible assistant director West Hyler. We're really tightening things up for our big 1-year anniversary show the following week.

August 19th - The four boys are interviewed for CITY TV's "In The City" segment on the news. It was pretty funny. If you're interested, check out the video. CITY TV Interview

August 20th -
It's Jersey Boys Toronto's 1-Year Anniversary Performance. Everything went great, the crowd was rocking, the cast was primed, and we knocked it out of the park. At the end of the show, Aubrey Dan was given a gift onstage by the TCA Board President, and then introduced Bob Gaudio and Rick Elice to the sold-out crowd. Oh, What A Night, indeed.

Once the show was finished, we mingled with Bob and Rick, took some photos, and then headed to our after-party. It was awesome - a big cake, lots of great food, plenty of drinks to send us all home happy. Bob and Rick couldn't be happier with our show, and that makes me a very happy camper.

August 24th - The cast and crew of Jersey Boys Toronto celebrate the summer that was on a beautiful Toronto Harbour Cruise. It was the perfect way to symbolize all that we've achieved together. To paraphrase myself in the show, 'We got something going here. It took a lot of work, and a whole year. We're not gonna let it come apart!'

PS - Look who's Taking the Wheel?!?!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Night I Won My DORA Award

I imagine by now, most of you have already heard the news... but in case you haven't:
I won the DORA award for Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Principal Role – Musical!

It is such an honour to be recognized by my peers in this way, and a week later, I'm still kinda of stunned. I have received tonnes of emails and facebook messages from you all wishing me congratulations. Thank you all so much, from the bottom of my heart. It means so much to have the support of friends and family. However, in lieu of sending a hundred individual emails thanking you all and telling you how it went, this blog post is my attempt to do just that.

My lovely wife Christine and I showed up under an umbrella at the Dora-Nominees VIP Reception at the Rosewater Supper Club at about 6pm. It was well attended, with both floors packed with beautiful theatre, dance, and opera people eating, drinking and laughing before the big show. Excitement was definitely in the air.

Christine was looking especially gorgeous, in a fancy black frock and I was wearing my new summery suit. (No, Harry Rosen didn't provide me with the George Clooney-inspired duds as ETalk suggested.) Everybody was dressed to the nines. It was a special night, after all. There were a couple short speeches and then we were asked to walk the few blocks over to the Winter Garden Theatre for the real reason for the season. Luckily, it had stopped raining.

We filed in right at 8pm and were seated down in the third row with the rest of the Dancap people. These were the 30th annual DORA Awards, and were hosted by Jian Ghomeshi of CBC Radio One's flagship arts show "Q". (But perhaps most notably infamous for his interview with actor-turned-Tom Petty-wannabe Billy Bob Thornton a month back.) Jian used to be in the folky-pop a Capella group Moxy Fruvous, back in the day. Remember them? ("Once I was the King of Spain, now I eat humble pie...") I had their tape. I'm dating myself. As a good friend used to say, 'Well if I won't, who will?'

But I digress. Like most awards shows, the host opened with a song - but not just any song - "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You". My heart started beating really fast. Partly flattered, partly nervous he was going to make fun of it/us/our show. He didn't. It was a nice tribute, which segued into a comedy piece where he walked into the crowd and made fun of Ross Petty, mastermind of the Christmas Pantos (sample lyric: 'God knows why Karen Kain is with you...').

The show moved along nicely with some winners saying how they'd been nominated 5 or 10 times and this was their first win; and others winning for their first nominations. That humbled me instantly. Most winners surprisingly hadn't prepared a speech at all, while others delivered their rehearsed speeches with verve and passion.

It was about 9:30pm by the time JERSEY BOYS' 1st category came up. When Sergio Trujillo didn't win for Best Choreography, my heart sank a bit. I thought, 'Oh no, maybe it's not our night!'. But that feeling quickly disappeared when we won our 2nd and 3rd categories; Des McAnuff won for his brilliant direction, and then JERSEY BOYS won the coveted Audience Choice Award for Best Show.

It must have been 10:30pm when they finally got to my category. Cast mates and fellow nominees Michael Lomenda and Quinn VanAntwerp sat to my immediate left and right. We three shared a nice glance at each other as the presenters came on stage. It was a special moment for me, one that showed our support and respect for each other. (Jeremy was dearly missed on this night, as he remained at home in New York with his very pregnant wife Jenny Lee Stern.)

C. David Johnson and Cynthia Dale (both of "Street Legal" fame) read out the nominees in alphabetical order, and in the pause before "and the Dora goes to..." you could hear a pin drop. I know I was holding my breath. It's interesting - I don't remember looking at the stage when I heard my name being called. I'm still not even sure which presenter said my name. In that moment before my name was called, I went somewhere... it felt like I was dreaming.

But, it was no dream. I did hear my name. And I remember hearing applause, and feeling Michael pat my left arm. I turned to my right and looked at Christine, then hugged her and kissed her. I stood up, and there were my parents, proud as could be. I kissed my Mom and shook my Dad's hand as I made my way out the aisle to go up the stairs to the right of the stage.

Once I crossed to centre stage I began to come back to reality a bit. I heard the applause quite clearly now and felt the bright lights shining in my eyes. Cynthia Dale handed my the beautiful (and heavy) statue - I think I kissed her too, on the cheek - not like Adrian Brody on Halle Berry at the Oscars a few years back - that would have been weird. But enjoyable. For her. Kidding. Uh, moving on.

As I walked to the mic down stage I pulled my speech out of my suit jacket pocket. (I like to be prepared:)) I was really happy with how I delivered my speech, and how well it went over. (If you're interested in reading it, it will appear in its entirety in the following blog post.)

Once finished, I exit into the wings Stage Left and am whisked away to a table where I'm given a bottle of champagne and some congratulations. The first photos of me with MY new DORA are taken. I'm interviewed for something live in front of the camera, but it's all a blur. 'How does it feel? What do you have to say?' 'Uh, duh, um, wow, its great...' You know the routine.

The last category of the night is for Best Musical and somehow we didn't win. The Sound Of Music won despite only having one nominated actor (we had four), and losing best direction and the audience choice award to us. But, honestly - you can't find two shows more different than each other, each appealing to two completely different audiences. Apples and Oranges. Both yummy. And good for you. And fruity. (Hey, maybe they're not that different after all.)

The three-hour show comes to an end and I rejoin my colleagues. Lots of hugs and kisses and congratulations from everyone. Some people tell me how great my speech was, and I'm surprised. I guess it touched some people. I realize now that when delivering it, I was very moved up there. I spoke from the heart about how great an honour it is to do what I do, and how lucky I am to be able to follow my dream. I got choked up a bit, I'm not gonna lie.

OK - Enough with the sappy shit! The night was just beginning! Immediately after the awards, we headed over to the After-Party in style - in a double-decker sight-seeing bus. Since it had recently stopped raining, we sat atop the bus in the open air. It was just perfect. We had a magical ride, floating along Yonge Street with it's lights and billboards, and everyone in great spirits only adding to the excitement.

The After-Party was great - more drinks, eats, photos, and partying. Two floors of fun. Lots more mingling and congratulations and even a surprise visit from my brother Joel, sporting his JERSEY BOYS hat. I guess they thought he was with the show because they let him right in! He gave me the biggest hug. And my agent and friend Kish was there by my side all night long too. He was beaming most of the night. He took a big chance on me when I was just starting out, and I owe him so much. It was really special being surrounded by so many friends and family.

The next day, I found this article online - from Now Magazine. Even the writer Jon Kaplan mentioned that I had one of the better speeches of the evening. Check out his wrap-up if you like. Now Magazine Article If the link doesn't work, go here: http://www.nowtoronto.com/daily/story.cfm?content=170170

I am a lucky man, indeed. It was a night I will not soon forget. The night I won my DORA. My Speech follows. Read it below.

My DORA Acceptance Speech

I've printing my acceptance speech here for a couple of good reasons. One, I've gotten a lot of wonderful feedback on the speech from people who were at the DORAS that night. I figured some of you might want to read it here.

But mostly, I've printed it here to send my thanks out to the Universe again, for this incredible honour that I've received. They give these awards to one person, but, no art is created in a vacuum. Theatre especially is collaborative and interpersonal. I owe so many people so many thanks for helping guide me to the point where I am at right now. So, if your name is mentioned here, I can't thank you enough. It means the world to me.

(Pulling my speech out of my suit jacket packet)
Wow, this is crazy. Honestly, it's unbelievable.

(Taking a big breath)
I want to thank TAPA and the DORA Selection Committee for giving me this honour.

(Knowing the clock is ticking on my 90 seconds)

Phew. OK, please bear with me because I have a million people to thank, because, well, there are a million people involved in putting on JERSEY BOYS.

First I want to thank Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice for writing such wonderful words to speak, and Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe for writing such amazing songs to sing.

And I want to thank Des McAnuff, Ron Melrose and Sergio Trujillo for shaping this masterpiece for the stage, who, along with Richard Hester, Michael Rafter, and everyone at the Dodgers in New York City entrusted me with this incredibly demanding role, for some absurd reason.

Thank you to Tara Rubin and Merri Sugarman, along with Sherry Dayton and Michael Walters for not casting, I don't know, Zac Efron or something.
(audience laughs)

And my amazing agent Kish for your continued ... (I get choked up, part 1)... belief in me and support. It means so much...

(Collecting myself, hurriedly)

I must thank West Hyler, Danny Austin and Liz Baird for busting my ass every minute of every hour of every day of rehearsal. You let me find my own way through this material, allowing me to shape my own version of "Frankie".

Thank you to our awesome stage managers Cindy, Zeph and Mel, our awesome and dedicated crew, and the best band anywhere - you guys make us all look and sound great up there.

Most of all, I want to thank Jeremy Kushnier, Michael Lomenda and Quinn VanAntwerp, and the entire cast of JERSEY BOYS for being the best cast anyone could hope for.

Thank you to Aubrey Dan and everyone at Dancap for having the brains, and lets face it, the balls to bring this show to the Toronto market at this time. Way to go!

(I get choked up, part 2) I wanna thank my Mom and Dad sitting right down here and my brothers Chris and Joel for your never-ending support... and lastly ...

*(The Get-Off-The-Stage Music starts to play - it's soft, and pretty, and believe it or not, it's 'Can't Take My Eyes Off of You' played on keyboard)*

(Ad Libbing)
Oh - this music is perfect for this part! (audience laughs)

(Calmly carrying on over the perfect musical underscore)
To my wife, Christine... (audience laughs)... you have made several huge sacrifices to allow me to follow my dream ... (I get choked up, part 3) and I can't begin to thank you enough. I love you so much.

(Growing brazen and Ad Libbing some more)

Look, I'm just a regular guy with a Science Degree who had a passion for performing. So, for all you Science students out there who want to get into show business (holding up my Dora) stick to it, you've still got a chance! (audience laughs)

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Who I Forgot To Thank:

I wish I had remembered to thank three very important singing teachers who have helped me enormously over the past 15 years. Andrew Seok, Carol Forte and Katie Agresta have taught me how to properly use my voice, enabling me to achieve the limits of my talent. I literally could not do this role without them.

Time Wouldn't Allow Me To Thank:

- Joseph Leo Bwarie, my first 'Frankie', for showing me the way and passing along some tricks of the trade
- My reading partners at my auditions in Toronto and New York City - all wonderful actors;
- My accompanist at my first auditions, Noreen Waibel;
- The musical mentors I've had in my life, including Paul Sportelli, Ryan DeSouza, and numerous piano teachers, trumpet teachers, band leaders in Etobicoke and Dartmouth;
- The acting mentors I've had in my life (whether they knew they were mentoring me or not) including literally dozens of Shaw Festival Ensemble actors and directors too numerous to mention - you have no idea how influential you were to my development;
- The crew at Hart House Theatre and all my friends at U of T in UC Follies who first put the idea of making this a career in my head, and gave me the fertile training ground I needed to develop.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Update - Part 2

Week of June 8 - 15: Bittersweet

The second week back from vacation was looking just as busy as the first, so I kicked it off right by working on my day off. Smart, huh? Well, when you love your job, and people want you to perform, it's hard to say no. So, Monday night Michael, Quinn, Grant Tilly (subbing for Jeremy) and I sang our 'Guy's Guy Movie Medley' at a Gala for the Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School at the Al Green Theatre in Toronto. I also sang a solo number from my CD 'TAKING THE WHEEL', entitled "What Is It About Her?". It was a fun night for a good cause, but ultimately a bit tiring.

Tuesday morning I did an interview by the Oakville Beaver newspaper. I think it'll hit Oakville's doorsteps in a couple days. Check their website in a couple days to see if they have it up online. Click here.

Wednesday morning brought us a rare opportunity - to do a feature on TV's popular infotainment show, "E-TALK". The idea for this came after all four of us - Jeremy, Michael, Quinn and I - were nominated for a Dora Award. They figured we'd all be going to the Gala together, and would want to look the part, kind of like a modern Rat-Pack. We met at Harry Rosen's flagship store in Yorkville, and their designers helped pick out stylish duds for us to wear. They filmed us the whole time, walking in, shopping around, trying stuff on, goofing off, and generally making asses of ourselves. It was a lot of fun. I can't wait to see the segment, if only to see what they bleeped out. It will be on TV in a couple days time - double check your local listings, but here's what I think will happen - Our segment will air on CTV Thursday, June 25th, 7pm EST; and again Friday, June 26th at 1pm EST; it will also air on STAR a couple more times. Don't miss it!

Thursday and Friday afternoons were again spent rehearsing with Dan. It's exciting to see him get more comfortable in the role. But again, it's really difficult doing the show with two different 'Tommys'. His character drives a great deal of Act 1, and most of what our characters do is in reaction to him. And, making it worse, we were all getting a bit emotional, knowing that we'd be saying good-bye to Jeremy.

Jeremy's last show was Sunday June 14th, and it was a roller-coaster ride. Emotions were running high - first, we were exhausted from a couple brutal weeks of non-stop work, second, we were losing our leader, the guy who set the bar for us all in rehearsal (since he has already done the part for over a year), and third, the show never felt so real, with exact lines of dialogue replicating what we were going through. It was trippy, really. Several times during the show I got choked up, as did the other guys. It turned out to be an incredible show for the audience, because everyone was so raw. Jeremy was given a well-deserved extra bow in the curtain call, and he welled up in front of 1500 cheering people. Oh what a night, indeed.

After the show, we had a party to say goodbye, but also to celebrate completing six full months of shows! There were speeches, free food and drinks and even an enormous cake designed to look like the front of the playbill. But it was bittersweet to be sure (the moment, not the cake). Jeremy will be missed, and we will carry on with Dan, hopefully for a long time to come.

Week of June 16 - 23: Another Astonishing Addition

Tuesday morning started off with an interview with a reporter from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald newspaper. I lived in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia for five years growing up, and had many great memories of living there. In fact, my first job was delivering that very newspaper. And I started playing trumpet and joined my first bands in school there. If you're interested in checking out the article, click HERE.

Tuesday night was Dan's first show! It was great. We knew he'd be great after rehearsing with him so much, and he hardly let us down - he knocked it out of the park! We had a big house that night, and they cheered him loudly throughout. I'm sure most of them didn't know it was his first show, either. We celebrated our new cast member in style with some Italian champagne after the show, but kept it an early night because Wednesday's two shows were looming.

Another rather big piece of news is the addition of Alison Smyth to our company, doing 'Francine' track. Alison is replacing the lovely Lindsay Thomas in the role while Lindsay attends to some personal matters. She will certainly be missed at the theatre.

Alison had the unenviable position to learn the entire track in about a week. You've gotta understand, her track is probably the most technical of them all - for example she has 13 costume changes in Act 1 alone, often rushing on with some piece of furniture and as a new character. She sings the lead in "My Boyfriend's Back", and to top it all off, she has to play my mother, my girlfriend, and my daughter. Now if that doesn't break you up when you go to bed tonight, nothing will.

So, there we were, back at rehearsal Thursday and Friday. And, Alison did so great, they decided to put her into the show right away Friday night! Of course, she did amazing. You'd never have known that 10 prior she was signing her contract. And of course, to celebrate Alison joining our company, more Italian champagne was poured.

Something else cool happened this week - we had three sold-out shows! And, Friday night we sold the most tickets to any performance of JERSEY BOYS ever in Toronto, including the Touring production. Ticket sales have really picked up lately. No one really knows why - the great word of mouth, the 7 DORA nominations, the onset of Summer, all the Publicity, Father's Day - but it's a sign, Tommy. Here's hoping we rock through the summer selling out every night, and run this fantastic show for a long, long time.

Oh, and before I go, I thought I'd mention that we're performing at the CHIN picnic on Canada Day. Details will be figured out later, but if you're around and you're interested, check it out. And, the DORA awards will be handed out next Monday night, June 29th. Cross you fingers, everybody.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Update - Part 1

Uh, yeah, sorry. I haven't written in a while. You see, I've been a little busy with work. After reading on, you'll understand why. This blog post is Part-1 in an attempt to get you caught up with my ridiculously busy schedule for the past four weeks.

My Vacation Week, May 25 - 31: SICK HAPPENS

Life is funny. You plan months in advance, you think you are in control. Uh, not so much. Although my wife and I had our trip to Cuba all planned out, our bags packed and waiting at the door, we apparently forgot to tell 15-month-old Emily not to get a fever. Sick happens, I guess.

With only 12 hours to go before we were to leave for the airport, her fever and symptoms were bad enough to make us very uneasy about getting on a long plane ride to a communist country with temperatures nearing 100F. I couldn't believe our luck. I had been looking forward to this week of fun and pampering for such a long time. Needless to say, we cancelled the trip. Honestly, I was crushed. On the plus side, we learned that Cancellation Insurance was made for families with young children. We'll get all our dough back, he says crossing his fingers.

So, after a few days at home managing the colds things settled down a bit - yes, that's colds, plural, because of course, Sydney got the bug two days later. I salvaged some vacation time by hopping on a plane with my Dad Phil bound for Las Vegas. We found a great last minute deal to stay at the Palazzo Hotel right on the strip, which just happens to be where JERSEY BOYS is playing. So of course, we went to see the show! How could I not? Here's a pic of me and the "Vegas Four Seasons" backstage after the show.

I did feel a bit out of place sitting in the audience though. I think I prefer to be up onstage! The show was great - if a bit shorter. They cut out lines of dialogue throughout the show and shortened the intermission to eight minutes, so the audience could get back onto the Casino floor faster, I guess. But it didn't seem to matter - the crowd reacted almost identically to our crowds here in Toronto, which is the goal, I think. A hit is a hit, wherever you go!

The rest of our time was spent trying to stay out of the casinos. We hung out around the beautiful pools relaxing, we played a nice round of golf, and saw the Cirque du Soleil show 'O' from the second row - which was absolutely mind-blowing. All in all, it was a nice - if short - vacation.


My first week back from vacation was a doozie. (There's a word for you - God, how old am I?) Talk about being jolted back into the swing of things. First thing Tuesday morning, a did an interview with the Etobicoke Guardian newspaper. Check it out HERE.

Then later in the week I did a live radio interview on The Fan 590 AM. Check that out HERE. My interview should appear at the top of the list - June 7. If that doesn't work click on Audio Archives on the left, and look for my name.

And, no, I didn't forget how to do the show Tuesday night after the week off - in case you were wondering, it went great!

First thing Wednesday morning, Jeremy, Michael, Quinn and I were invited to announce the 2008-09 DORA Nominations at a press conference at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in downtown Toronto. (Get the tie-in there? The 'Four Seasons' at the Four Seasons. Sorry to be so obvious for pointing that out!) Anyway, much to our pleasure, JERSEY BOYS was nominated for seven DORA awards, and surprise surprise, all four of us were nominated in the same catagory - for Best Performance in a Musical!

It feels really amazing being nominated for this DORA award. But, I have to say, I'm over the moon about having all four guys nominated. And, the absolute capper is having the show be nominated for Best Musical. Man, I hope we win that one. And actually, there is one big award that you can all help us win. There is an Audience Choice Award for Best Show, but there's only a day or two left to vote. Please help us win by going to this site and vote for JERSEY BOYS. CLICK HERE TO VOTE.

Thursday and Friday afternoon we had rehearsals with our new 'Tommy Devito', Daniel Robert Sullivan. Dan had been rehearsing the show with the National Tour for the past couple weeks, and now he has joined us. Dan has replaced Jeremy Kushnier, who has left the show to move back to New York with his very pregnant wife Jenny Lee Stern who played 'Mary Delgado' here in Toronto for four-plus months. They want to settle in to their new house before baby makes her appearance later this summer. So, it's been a bit weird - rehearsing with one 'Tommy' in the afternoon, then doing the show with the other 'Tommy' at night. But, that's show biz.

After Sunday's matinee, Michael, Quinn and I took Jeremy out for a 'Big Man In Town' Night, Jersey-style, in honour of his leaving and to say thanks for being such an incredible cast member. We rented a limo for the night, and started the night off in style, having dinner overlooking the beautiful skyline atop the CN Tower. Then it was a seemingly endless series of drinks at various nightspots around the town, the names of which I seem to escape me for some odd reason. What I do remember though, is that it was an epic night of great meaning to me and the guys. I wish we all could hang on to that feeling forever.

Jeremy's 'BMIT' Night also happened to coincide with a little event called the Tony Awards in New York City. Some of you may have heard a bit of juicy gossip about my potential involvement in a live performance onstage at said Tonys. And some more of you may have watched the Tonys, heard them say something like "... the Frankie from Toronto, ..." only to see five other guys sing.

Let me set the record straight. It's all very simple. The Tony Awards broadcast decided to give JERSEY BOYS a 2-minute performance slot for having such great success beyond Broadway. The producers of JB decided after much deliberation to do a medley of "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" and "Oh, What A Night", and feature the five 'Frankies' from the five North American companies of Jersey Boys currently playing. Which meant that I was to be a part of the live televised event. Only, being a Canadian citizen, I can only work in the United States if I have a working VISA and join the American Actors Union(s). Unfortunately, there was not sufficient time to get me the legal paperwork before the Tonys. End of story.

I was actually spared a lot of heartache, because I was only informed of all this after the final (negative) decision was made by the American Government agency. Which was a blessing. Since I didn't know it might have happened, I couldn't get all excited about the prospect. But, of course, I was disappointed to miss out on this potentially amazing opportunity. I mean, who wouldn't want to go sing a great song on live TV in front of millions of people at the Tonys - not to mention meeting celebrities, party-hopping, and hanging with Liza?

The way I look at it is this: The producers really wanted me to be a part of this event. They chose to go ahead with this event with me in mind as one of the 'Frankies'. That makes me feel really good. And, after my involvement fell through, the news was respectfully broken to me in the most professional and gentle manner by several key members of the JERSEY BOYS family, which made all the difference to me. Look, I believe that all things happen for a reason, even if the reason isn't obvious at first. It'll reveal itself to me at another time. I still have a fantastic job, and get to perform in front of tons of screaming fans every night. Talk about "Too Good To Be True". I'm living that dream. It's all good.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Preparing to Sit Down

Things have been going great with life and with work. Crowds are coming to Jersey Boys in growing numbers over the last few weeks, no doubt due to the nicer weather and the great word of mouth. I met a couple the other day who flew in from Ottawa just to see the show because they heard such great things about it. That’s awesome. Live far away? Think about coming to Toronto for a night or two, and check out Jersey Boys while you can.

Things sure have been busy, though. (Surprise surprise.) Aside from the rigors of doing the show every night, our Publicity stuff has really taken off. All the preparations have really paid off. We're starting to get more National press, and even some cred on Broadway websites and blogs, which is really great.

And my family and I have been preparing busily for our big trip to CUBA! We leave this Monday morning. I’m so looking forward to having a week off, and getting completely away from the routine, hitting the beach, and letting someone else take care of me for a week. The show is in great hands with me gone, so I have nothing to worry about but relaxing! I'll be back in the show Tuesday June 2nd.

Here’s a run-down of some of the recent goings on in Jersey Boys Toronto land.

Expose Entertainment Magazine
Expose Entertainment Magazine did a photo-shoot and interview of our ‘Four Seasons’, Jeremy, Michael, Quinn and I. It was in a fun, hip, urban studio downtown, and they dressed us up in cool contemporary clothes, a nice change from our show duds. I’ll let you know when it hits the presses. Should be really cool.

Cosmo TV
Cosmo TV, a new digital TV channel offshoot from that old supermarket standby Cosmopolitan Magazine, also did an interview with the four of us. It was for their show Oh So Cosmo, Cosmo TV’s new half-hour magazine-style TV show (‘We offer fun, fearless females entertaining stories and segments celebrating the lifestyle of hip, urban women. Hosted by Josie Dye, our sexy, irreverent Cosmo girl, Oh So Cosmo explores style, men, sex and relationships with a healthy dose of fun and style’, says their website.) If anyone sees this, let me know. I'll try to find out when it will hit the air.

OMNI TV is now running an interview/commercial with the Four of us. Lucy Zilio is the host, associate producer and writer of the informative and entertaining "Tuned In" segments seen weeknights during various shows on OMNI Television and City TV. She is described as “one of the most upbeat, energetic and entertaining personalities on the TV scene”. That’s an understatement. If you’ve seen it, let me know what you think – I haven’t yet.

Writer Kelly Cameron interviewed ‘Toronto’s Four Seasons’ recently after a show for BroadwayWorld.com. The interview is quite extensive, and gives background info on each of our unique audition process before being selected to the show. It's a fun read. Check out the link. Exclusive Interview

Sports Night
Kelly also covered some other events we did, including our ‘Sports Night’. Dancap organized a series of events with a sports theme, and invited several members of the media and Toronto’s sports teams to the show one night. It was a hit, and you can see several photos of the event.

The absolute highlight for me was going to a Blue Jays game with my Dad on his birthday, being down on the field during batting practice, and meeting Baltimore Oriole starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie and Blue Jay Kevin Millar. We chatted before the game, and Guthrie gave me a signed baseball, while Millar gave me his batting practice bat! Later that night, they came to see us perform in Jersey Boys, and then they hung out with our cast for almost an hour chatting about music and sports. It was a day I’ll not soon forget. The article and interviews are at this link. Sports Night Interview and Pics

The Sports night pics are also featuring on the popular Jersey Boys Blog, too. Check them out there if you like. Jersey Boys Blog

Globe and Mail Car Interview
My Globe and Mail Car interview finally appeared in the newspaper this past Thursday. It turned out really good, I think. The picture is cool, the article is easy to read and fun. Check it out. Me and My Car Interview

Canadian Living Magazine
Our Canadian Living Magazine spread has finally hit the newsstands, too. It’s in the June, 2009 issue with a big juicy BBQ back-rib on the cover. Yummm. We’re on pages 52-54, looking all buffed and shiny and new. There’s also a brief editorial on page 8 that talks about Jersey Boys. Pick the magazine up next time you’re out and about. It’s worth it for the great recipes alone!

Movie Medley a Hit
We were lucky enough to take part in a great fundraiser concert for Barrie’s Theatre By The Bay a few weeks back. Quinn, Michael, myself and Grant Tilly subbing for Jeremy performed (for the first time) a ‘Guy’s Guy’ medley of Movie Theme songs, arranged in the Jersey Boys style. We brought the house down. The number ended the first act with a bang – literally, as Quinn cracked his mic stand hard by mistake on the final move of the song. The crowd didn’t mind one bit, and they leapt to their feet in a spontaneous standing ovation.

We look forward to doing the number again at another GALA coming up in June. It is a fundraising gala for the Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School. The Gala raises funds which go entirely to funding subsidies so that no child is turned away from getting a Jewish education. The school happens to have lots of parents who work in the arts in some capacity (directors, producers, music executives, sound engineers, actors) and because of this, they are able to put together an annual variety show of the highest caliber. Past performers include Tony Award Winner Bob Martin (Drowsy Chaperone), Colm Wilkinson, Sean Cullen, Molly Johnson, Amy Sky and Jackie Richardson. This year we have secured Kristin Thompson, Ted Dykstra, Melanie Doane, Richard Greenblatt, Natalie Reznik and Miles Faber (finalists from SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE CANADA) and Toronto’s Jersey Boys. The Gala is held at the intimate Al Green Theatre (Bloor/Spadina) on Monday June 8, 2009 for an audience of about 350 people.

And now, I leave you for a week. I’ll be back, refreshed and tanned, rearing and ready to go for another long run of Jersey Boys. I'll fill you in on the pool-side fun, share a few pics, and tell you about some cool Jersey Boys stuff happening on the TONY Awards TV Broadcast Sunday June 7. Until then, keep on Taking the Wheel, everybody.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Most of you already know that I wrote five diaries for the National Post newspaper. They ran last week in the Arts and Minds section in a somewhat edited fashion. I've decided to run them here, too. This is what I wrote, word for word. I'd love to hear your comments.


How does a Human Biology Major wind up playing ‘Frankie Valli’ in JERSEY BOYS?


I’ve loved music ever since I was a kid. I started piano lessons at age seven and trumpet lessons at 10. I can't remember when I started singing, but I sang in lots of choirs (boy soprano, at that!). I come from a musical family – siblings, parents, aunts, and grandparents - so it always felt normal to play music. Most were amateur and did it for fun. I admire that.

I also loved science and math, and did really well in school. So, I figured I'd follow the family fold and get a 'real' job while playing music on the side for fun.

I dabbled in theatre and continued to play in bands while getting migraines finishing my degree at U of T. By third year, I still couldn't figure out what I wanted to be. So, I quit the arts entirely to focus on my studies and find my career path.

The migraines got worse. Something wasn't right. I wasn't happy anymore. It wasn't just the responsibilities of ‘growing up’; it was Nature trying to tell me something. I wasn't being true to what was in my heart.

2.5 credits away from my degree, and I decide to take acting classes, dance classes, and singing lessons. Something clicked. I ‘found’ my career path. I finished my degree, but I've been following my dreams ever since, and it's been a pretty darn good ride.

And you know what, being an artist IS a 'real' job. It takes dedication, years of hard work, training, and honing your craft. And, it has real value - yes, to the economy - but more importantly, to the soul. What we do moves people, makes them feel, think, question life and their place in it. I admire that, too.


The biggest challenge I face right now is balancing the demands of being a father with the demands of playing ‘Frankie Valli’ in JERSEY BOYS.

This past week was a rough one for me. My eldest daughter Sydney caught the flu, and being 2.5 yrs old, meant that she needed around the clock care. Which makes it difficult for my wife and I, because her one-year-old sister Emily also needs around the clock care.

As any parents of young children will tell you, even with healthy kids it's a struggle just to function. When they're sick, it can be a nightmare. Schedules go out the window, and you get by on ‘survival mode’.

I've discovered (the hard way) that I need at least six hours of sleep and a light physical and vocal warm-up mid-day to perform optimally. If not, doing the show is like running up a mountain for 2.5 hours.

My wife Christine is incredibly understanding and supportive of my needs, and I try to be as helpful as I can. She is an incredible woman, and an amazing mother. I'm a really lucky guy. I've got a great family and a great job. What else could I ask for?


This past day off was great. By 9:30am my girls and I are downstairs 'rolling some balls' in our condo’s Billiard Room, checking the mail, and watching Kids’ shows on the Party Room TV.

By 11am I'm feeding Emily lunch when Sydney, naked from the waist down, proudly walks into the room carrying wet socks. "Daddy, have to put in washing machine," she exclaims. I'm still trying to figure that one out.

Between 11-1pm I get each kid some lunch and Emily down for her nap. This gives me a chance to check my email, confirm two interviews, and download two songs I’m learning for an upcoming concert.

1:30pm Christine comes home and I’m off to do groceries. 3:30pm brings more phone calls to set-up rehearsals, interviews and photo-shoots. 5pm is dinnertime for the kids, and packing for our big trip... to a Hotel!

6pm Take the kids for a swim. 7pm Bath time for the kids while we wait for Room Service to arrive. 7:30pm Scarf down our eats while keeping the kids from destroying the room. 8pm Take the kids home, get them to sleep. 9pm Babysitter arrives, and we're free! It’s been five weeks since our last real date.

Back at the Hotel, we open some mini-bar wine and unashamedly enjoy finishing off our cold room service dinners. And try not to fall asleep!


I've gotten lots of great comments from people who've seen JERSEY BOYS. Things like, "That role is perfect for you", or "You were born to play that part". I take these comments as they were intended, as a compliment.

But, what about the other roles I’ve played. Does this discount my work in those shows? Was my creative vision less fulfilled?

And further, actors rarely get the chance to create something original. The parts we play came out of somebody else's mind first. It seems to me, if you write - novels, music, plays, and screenplays - you are truly creating.

Last year I released a CD called "Taking the Wheel". Although I wrote none of the songs, I still felt as though I was creating something unique. I chose the songs, arrangers, musicians, style etc. But, is someone who merely interprets the work of others still creating?

Who, then, is Jeff Madden, as an artist? Am I a combination of all the parts I play, the songs I sing? I wonder if I’ll ever know.


Last night was a great show. Everybody was connected, the pacing was crisp, and the crowd was awesome. JERSEY BOYS plays great to a subdued and quiet crowd, but when a energetic, near-capacity crowd is digging it, laughing loudly, cheering wildly and going with us on the ride, it's an unbelievable feeling.

It's funny, though, sometimes ‘you never can tell’ (props to Mr. Shaw). Before the show, I wasn't feeling confident about how it might go for me personally. I hadn't had much sleep, and rushed my preparations before the curtain. Playing ‘Frankie Valli’ is an incredibly demanding role vocally, both singing and speaking. And then there’s the splits.

But, I nailed it last night. One of my best shows ever. The crazy falsetto stuff flew out of my mouth like I was ordering dinner. The chesty rocking stuff was strong and clear. I was emotionally connected every moment.

I tell you, there's nothing like it, when you know you're doing your best work.


COMMENT below, and let's keep the conversation going.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Hi Folks,

Don't know if this deserves a blog post all to itself or not, but what the heck...

I just wanted you all to know, in case you're considering buying tickets in advance to come see JERSEY BOYS: My Week Off is fast approaching.


(Not sure where yet, but I'll fill you in later.)

Therefore, I will not be performing the week of May 25-31st.



Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Week That Was

100 apologies for not writing sooner. I know many of you were dying to find out what it was like meeting Frankie Valli. I'll get to that below. Suffice it to say, I'm a freaking busy guy these days. I haven't had a day off in two weeks. There's lots of news to get you caught up on, but very little time to get it up on the blog. Which totally makes sense when you think about it.

We did a great show this afternoon, followed by an interview with www.broadwayworld.com. Then there's the drive home, the dinner routine, putting the kids to bed, and here we are. It's late Sunday night already and I'm bagged. I should be sleeping already, but here I am, typing away.

Let me get right to it. The big news turned out to be no news at all. My highly publicised meeting with Frankie Valli fell through at the last possible moment. We were done in by a scheduling nightmare. The columnist from the Toronto Star Richard Ouzounian was inundated with other news stories he had to cover, and tried to reschedule. But Mr. Valli and his people were on such a tight schedule getting their show into Casino Rama, teching, and sound checking that they simply could not accommodate the change in plans. I got a call from our publicist five minutes before we were to leave. I was deeply disappointed, but what can you do? That's life. People are busy. Sometimes things just don't work out. I know it will work out some time in the future. It's meant to be. Don't you think?

My Car and I were interviewed and photographed, as scheduled. The article should appear in the Globe and Mail Driving section next Thursday, May 7th. It was fun being photographed parked at the entrance to the Toronto Centre of the Arts. Don't miss it!

My radio interview on 103.9 FM aired twice, and sounded great. I really enjoyed chatting with Mark Andrew Lawrence.Thanks to those of you who wrote to say you heard it. Anyone have any comments on the songs? The banter? Let me know.

A major highlight last week was the fundraiser concert of Paul Simon tunes for Acting Up Stage, called the "Sound of Silence". What a tremendous evening of music. Kudos to Mitchell Marcus for getting together such incredible talent. And To Musical director Reza Jacobs for his inspired, creative arrangements. I sang "The Only living Boy in New York", in a style I'd describe as Jason Mraz meets Frankie Valli. Not sure the crowd knew what to make of it. They really dug our version of "Cecelia", done a la Greenday or Blink 182. I had a blast.

This week coming up will also be a big one, starting tomorrow night (another Day Off spent working!). I'll be venturing up to Barrie to take part in another fundraiser concert, this time for Theatre By The Bay, called "The Stars Come Out". The Toronto Four Seasons (myself, Quinn, Mike, and Grant subbing for Jeremy) are singing a "Movie Medley" of 'Guys Flicks' which is pretty hilarious. Later in the evening, I'll be singing the solo "Tears in Heaven", which I recorded on my album 'Taking the Wheel'. Should be a great night.

Make sure to get yourself a National Post every day this week. I recently wrote five short Diaries which will be featured one a day in the Arts section. I believe it runs Monday through Friday. I'll try to post them daily onto my Facebook page (add me, if you haven't yet). Can't wait to hear how they'll be received. And to see how they'll be edited... Wow - Monday through Friday in the National Post, and then Saturday in the Globe and Mail. Not a bad week for Jeffy. You'll all be sick of me!


Then Quinn, Mike, Jeremy and I have another Magazine interview and photo shoot Tuesday, and possibly two TV interviews on Thursday. The www.toronto.broadwayworld.com article should come out this week too. I'll keep you posted. And Wednesday night is 'Sports Night' where we'll meet a bunch of Toronto sports writers, commentators and personalities after our show. Should be exciting, as I'm a big sports fan. Wonder who I'll meet?

Phew - that's what's up with me. Now you know why I don't have time to update the blog more often these days! Youre comments are always welcome. I encourage you to click the 'COMMENTS' link below.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Meeting Frankie Valli

Ok - while I've got a minute, here's the scoop:


As you may know, he and his band (The Four Seasons) are still touring the world, performing many shows a year. Well this week, that tour brings him to Casino Rama in Orillia, ON, about 90-minutes north of Toronto.

Well, JERSEY BOYS TORONTO managed to get a sit-down with the two of us during the afternoon before his show. They're driving me up to Casino Rama in the morning, and then we'll meet, take a few photos, and chat. The main event will be being interviewed together by Richard Ouzounian for an upcoming piece in the Toronto Star! A "Frankie Valli" meets Frankie Valli kind of thing.

Unfortunately, neither Frankie will be able to see the other's show. I'd love to stay and watch this living legend perform, but I have to get back to do our show Thursday night. And, I'd love to have him see me "play" him in JERSEY BOYS, but he has tour dates for Friday and Saturday and has to leave town. It just wasn't able to work out, this time around, anyway.

I'm so stoked. I met him, briefly, at my final audition in New York City last October. But our conversation was very short, as I couldn't think straight since I was focusing so hard on trying not to pee my pants. I was a little nervous, you see, with the little matter of trying to win the lead role of a lifetime. Turned out OK in the end, I guess. I wonder if he'll remember me?


1) My car and I are being interviewed and photographed this week for an article in the Globe and Mail - more info on that later. Yes, I said my car and I.

2) My Radio interview will be aired this Sunday morning at 9:00am on 103.9 FM. This is the interview about my Top 5 Musical Theatre songs of all time. It's a small radio station, which can be heard in the GTA area only, so I don't think it'll be online. If you're in the GTA, check it out. (It'll be repeated again the following weekend if anyone misses it.)

3) Tickets are still available for the fundraiser I'm doing on behalf of Acting Up Stage theatre company. This coming Monday night, 8pm at Bathrust Street Theatre in Toronto is The Sound Of Silence, an evening of Musical Theatre stars performing the hits of Paul Simon with a live band. it's an awesome lineup, and you don't want to miss it. I'm doing "Cecilia" and "The Only Living Boy in New York".

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I'm Ready to Play

Tonight was my first show back since *THE PLAGUE*.

Note the use of those asterisk(s). They are meant to scare you away - Danger, people. Like, the word PLAGUE on its own (capitalized, no less) isn't warning enough. But I digress.

(Wow, what an odd opening. First of all, what's the plural of asterisk? But I digress again...)

(Hey, what's the plural of digress? Uh oh...)

OK - So, to catch you up, I missed my first three shows this week due to *THE PLAGUE*. (*THE PLAGUE* that I had was actually an ornery intestinal track bug that I named Harper, if you must know).

Seriously, folks, I want to apologize to those of you who bought tickets for Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday hoping to see me as Frankie Valli. Believe me, if there was any way I could have done the show, I would have been out there. But, we're all human, and some times these things are unavoidable. When both my kids got it, it was only a matter of time. Sorry!!

It wasn't until noon today that I knew I had the strength to get back at it. And I'm so glad I did. I LOVE doing this show. I just love sharing the stage with my incredibly talented castmates, especially in front of a nearly sold out Friday night crowd. Man, it felt good to be back out there tonight!

I mean, I was a bit shaky. I'm not gonna lie. But, that's hardly a surprise, after spending three days moving between the Holy Trinity of the Bed to the Bathroom to the Couch, (it is Easter, isn't it?) I had actually lost five pounds. And on me, that's a lot.

Since I've only been on solid food for a day and a half now, I was lacking a bit of my usual strength and endurance. You know, there were a few moments where I was a tiny bit out of breath, a few moments where the choreo was a bit ooh, how do I say it nicely... wooden. A few pitchy notes up in the falsetto. These mostly all occurred in the "Big Three", actually (Sherry, Big Girls, and Walk Like a Man). But, all in all, I was really happy with how I got through it.

It actually reminded me of my first show as Frankie Valli, December 12, 2008. I wasn't sure how that night was going to go - none of us were, really. I mean, it was only our 2nd full run through of the show with full tech. So, there were a few Bunny-in-the-head-lights moments that night, and maybe one or two tonight as well.

Oh well, it's all good. We received a full standing ovation tonight, just like we did for our first show, and every single show since. JERSEY BOYS is huge and unstoppable. Just like Harper, aka *THE PLAGUE*.

More Good News

IF you have nothing planned this Easter Weekend, why not come see JERSEY BOYS? I know it's last minute, but there are super-reduced prices available for both shows Saturday April 11th and the Sunday April 12th 2pm matinee. (Remember, I do not perform in the Saturday matinee).

Call Dancap directly at 416-664-3665 and quote FRIENDS AND FAMILY DISCOUNT to get your $25 and $50 tickets.

Hope to see you there!