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, January 19, 2009

Media Media Media


This past week the Toronto cast of Jersey Boys got up bright and early to perform on CTV’s nationally televised morning show, CANADA AM. Even though the cast was tired after doing two shows on Wednesday, we somehow managed to find our way to the TV studio for 7am, and give a great performance. Everyone did a heck of a job.

Many of you have emailed, asking how I managed to hit those high notes so early in the morning. Well, on last week’s post I wondered whether I should stay up all night before the gig or get a bit of sleep – and not one of you made a suggestion. Well, thanks for nothing, friends. Actually, I decided to call my JB singing teacher and all-round ‘Frankie Guru’ Katie Agresta for some advice. She told me to get some sleep, and gave me a great routine to help with the early morning screeching.

After Wednesday evening’s show, I warmed-down vocally, took a long hot shower and hit the sack. About four hours later, the alarm goes off. It's 4:45am. Following Katie's advice, I force myself to eat a bit, have some coffee (duh), take a cool shower, and began warming up my speaking voice. At 5:20am I hit the treadmill - not literally, although that did cross my mind more than once - breaking a sweat, getting my body ready for the day. That accomplished, on to the real job of the day: finding my falsetto, and once located, introducing it to the rest of my voice, which at 6:00am is in my boots, where everyone's voice should be at that time of the day!

Into the car, and off I go, fighting the early morning commuters on the 401. I arrive at the studio just before 7am, and to my surprise I'm one of the last to arrive! We quickly get in to hair, makeup, and costumes and luckily we're able to run the medley three or four times before it counts. I was pretty happy with how my voice was feeling, all things considered (Thank you, Katie!). At about 8:50am, the cameras started rolling, and we did our thing. And it was over before we knew it.

By 9:15am, I was back in rush-hour traffic heading home to watch the tape. Aside from the bags under my eyes, I thought it looked pretty good. It's funny - the first TV close-up of me on the outdoor New Year's Eve gig showed my incredibly red nose, and here it's the bags under my eyes.

Well, what do you all think? If you haven’t seen it, check it out. Here’s a link to the segment.


What else is going on? Well, tomorrow night (Tuesday) is our official “Press Opening”. Many media outlets are coming back to review the show with the new Canadian cast. So, that’s kind of cool. It gives us another excuse to have a party, which is always nice. And, it’ll give the show a lot more publicity, which is great for Dancap and the Dodgers, the producers of Jersey Boys.

However, having the media come back to re-review the show makes the creative types a bit nervous. So, during this past week, we had visits from our director, Des McAnuff and his assistant West Hyler. Suffice it to say, I haven’t gotten this many notes since our first dress rehearsal. And, I’m not alone - everybody was under the microscope. But, obviously, they do it for a good reason. Their keen eyes and thoughtful suggestions have really helped focus everyone again, and because of it all, I think we’re finally firing on all cylinders.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the media say about our show. What matters is our nightly relationship with the audience. They are the ones buying the tickets, they are the ones on their feet cheering at the end of the show, they are the ones making their friends run to buy tickets to the show. You can’t buy that kind of publicity. The show is a hit because the people love it. Plain and simple.


As a testament to this fact, there is an incredible Fan-site called JerseyBoysBlog that keeps giving the fans more behind the scenes info. This is THE Fan-site for Jersey Boys news, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, do so. And just today, this blogsite happened to print an article about little ol’ me. It’s actually a bit of a promo for this very blog site, “Taking The Wheel”, my CD of the same name, and my website www.jeffmadden.ca.

In all honesty, I’m deeply flattered by the attention. And what's more, I'm honoured to be in this position. Honoured to be a working actor, to be working with such a multi-talented cast and crew, to be a part of this fantastic Tony-Award winning show. Playing “Frankie Valli”, well, that's the icing on the cake.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A News-Worthy Week

It was quite an eventful week in the lives of the Toronto Jersey Boys company.

The Big News of the week was supposed to be the arrival of our new 'Bob Gaudio', Quinn VanAntwerp. Quinn arrived in Toronto Tuesday, got settled in, and met the cast. He watched our show Wednesday, rehearsed with us Thursday and Friday afternoon, and did his first show Friday night. Quinn was fantastic. There was absolutely no worry on my part about working so closely with a new scene partner, and he fit in seamlessly into the harmonies and choreography, right from the start.

Coincidentally, I had 12 old friends from High School - some of which I hadn't seen in 15 years - come to the show that Friday night. They were blown away. The audience that night was electric, one of our best yet. It could not have gone better for Quinn's first show.

That was Friday. Well, everything changed Saturday. No, no, Quinn was still great... Unfortunately the lift/trap door/elevator down-stage-centre in the floor was not. It became clear right away in the matinee that it was malfunctioning, so the crew shut it down. But the show went on without stopping. Oh, and we also had two swings on for that show, too (the talented Victoria Lamond and Aaron MacKenzie). And since I had the afternoon off, I had the pleasure of watching it all unfold.

The amazing thing was how calmly everything came together. The stage management team was brilliant. They quickly paged the other two swings (Grant Tilly and Matt Cassidy, kudos to you both), and informed them that they'd be going on too, only in newly created roles - as Set Movers! Our crack wardrobe unit quickly dressed them in costumes, and they basically became 'roadies' for the Four Seasons. There they were, bringing out and taking away microphones, tables, chairs, basically whatever was needed to play the scenes that otherwise would have appeared/disappeared on the lift.

And, the audience was fantastic. Some may have known something was up, as we started late and had an extended intermission, but I'll bet most had no clue. They cheered loudly the entire show long.

That night, for my show, the lift was working again. Relieved, I carried on as usual. Until about 15 minutes from the end of the show, right in the middle of one of my monologues (and incidentally the quietest part of the play) I hear, (insert imaginary sound FX here) "grindity grind grrrind... crrrunchy crunch, squeek, snap..." coming from the floor.

Hmm. I think, 'Gee, that's unusual.' During a brief turn upstage, I glance towards the Stage Left wing - and see my ASM staring out at me, whispering into his headset.

Hmm. I think, 'Gee, why is he doing that?' I cross over to the Trap, where I'm supposed to sit on a bench. After that noise, I didn't expect to see it, but there it was.

Hmm. I wonder, 'Should I sit?' As I am finishing the last paragragh of my monologue, I put my left foot gingerly over the line, half on the floor, half on the trap, testing to see what would happen. Nothing. I slide my entire foot on the trap, and gently put some weight on it. Again, nothing. I figure, 'OK, I'm cool'. I play the scene, and sing "Fallen Angel". At the end of the song, the bench and I are supposed to disappear below the stage in a cleverly designed transition. But, I ain't going nowhere.

So, I casually stand up and walk off stage right. When I get into the wing, everybody is waiting there for me, like nothing new is going on. My dresser, the other Four Seasons, our mic stands, everything. In 15 seconds, we enter like nothing different has happened, sing "Ragdoll", and end the show. I tell you, it was seamless. You've got to love live theatre.

Sunday morning, we were back in the rehearsal hall. You see, we have another big publicity event this week. We're appearing on TV again, this time on CTV's 'CANADA AM' Thursday morning, January 15th. (I think we're on sometime between 8am - 9am, but don't hold me to that). So we had to squeeze in one rehearsal to learn the new medley for the 3+ minute spot. It features the songs "My Eyes Adored You", "Dawn" and "December '63 (Oh What a Night)". After the rehearsal and quick lunch at Timmies, we're back on stage again, doing the show without the lift. The crowd goes crazy again. I love my job.

So, remember everyone, set your PVRs to record CANADA AM this Thursday around 8am. Somehow, I'm going to be singing high E's at 8 in the morning. The question is, is it better to sleep a few hours, or stay up all night???

Hmm. I wonder.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Hi Everyone,

What an incredible week. It's Monday night, the kids are asleep, and I finally have some time to reflect on the events of our New Year's Eve gig on CITY TV.

Here's how it all went down New Years Eve...
10:35pm : We finish the evening show - the second of the day for everybody else. After the curtain call, we run to our dressing rooms. We quickly get out of costume, get into our LONG UNDERWEAR (Thank you, Dancap), stick on our HOT PACKS - one for the feet, one for the belly, one for the back (THANK YOU, Dancap!) - and back into our "gig" costumes. For me, it's the sparkly blue "Dawn" Suit. I'm lucky. For the ladies, it's the skimpy white finale dresses and high heel shoes. We must be crazy.

11:00pm: The cast, the band, the stage management team, the dressers, the handlers and media reps take off from the Toronto Centre of the Arts in a bus. Believe it or not, we have a Police Escort leading us down Yonge street. We get half a block before we realize how smart this was. The street is jammed. The cop car flashes its lights and sirens, and people move over and let us through. Boy, did we feel cool.

11:30pm: We pull underground into some special parking lot under City Hall and gather in the huge lobby. As we wait, through the glass doors we hear the muffled sound of a band performing as lights stream from the stage. I start to get nervous. Gee, I wonder why? To focus, the other three Seasons, Jeremy, Michael, and Grant and I run through our show in the corner while six strangers watch. That was weird.

Two big changes had to happen for the TV gig - we had to condense the chosen songs and scenes to fit a tight 10-minute package, and we had to play everything straight out front to the cameras. This meant altering some choreo slightly, adding new transitions, and re-arranging some dialogue. Lots of pesky little things to remember.

11:55pm: We step outside to get ready for our entrance at midnight. It is -13C, with a windchill of -20C. But, as it turns out, long underwear, hot packs and being scared shitless makes a body warm. Who knew?

Outside, we literally feel the roar of the crowd as the final performers finish. The Announcer's banter before the countdown. It starts to feel ridiculous. Nothing I've ever done has prepared me to perform in front of 40,000 people. Are they really gonna like it?

11:58pm: I spot my wife Christine and her brother Markus. They had found their way into the waiting area/VIP section off stage left. I run over and get a quick pre-New Year's kiss from Christine before I'm ushered back in line and up the stairs to the stage.

11:59pm: We soak in the atmosphere from the side of the stage. The big screen is counting down the seconds. People are stretched over every square foot of the Square, as far as the eye can see. Hundreds of people are skating on the ice rink. The lights are aglow on the 40-foot tall Christmas tree. The countdown begins! The noise is deafening.

12:00am: The crowd goes batty, and fireworks go off behind us. Jubilation. In the midst of all this, our stage manager yells "GO - FOUR SEASONS!" We take a quick moment to clock one another, and take off.

Uh oh. The stage is covered in wet slush and rock salt from the shoes of evertone onstage before us. That means having to be very careful in our choreo. It never fails. No matter how prepared you are, things always come up that you never planned for.

We hit our mark - and have a few seconds to acknowledge the crowd before beginning "Auld Lang Syne". It's unbelievable. They are literally squished in like sardines. They do not look comfortable at all. Yet they seem happy, perhaps relieved that they made it till midnight, and the crush will soon end. Or maybe they're just keeping warm.

The music begins. We sing it. A peaceful feeling comes over me. It feels great.

We finish, run back off stage left, take off the overcoats as the intro into "Sherry" begins. We carefully get out there just in the nick of time. The band's playing, and we begin.

It now all starts to be a blurrrrrrrr. During "Sherry" I spend most of my time thinking about the new changes. I start to relax and take in the enormity of the occasion, only to find my mind drifting away from the details! Argh! Where am I? What's coming up next?

Minor heart attack aside, I make it into "Big Girls Don't Cry". It goes great! We transition into "Walk Like A Man" - again, its a blurrrrrrr.

My monologue now. I hear my voice echoing strangely off the walls of the downtown buildings. It sounds thick and heavy - am I shouting? I haven't a clue what's coming out of my mouth as I scan the thousands of people. THIS IS SURREAL.

The intro into "Who Loves You" begins, and on come the rest of the cast. I am relieved to see them. It's almost over. Everyone seems to be nailing it. We finish, we bow, the crowd goes nuts, and we transition into "Oh, What A Night!". Indeed. Finally, I let loose and have some fun, glancing at the others next to me as we move through the steps. We finish, bow once more, the Announcers come out, thank everyone, and sign off to the TV audience.

That's it!!! We turn the stage into a huge hug-zone. Everyone wishes each other Happy New Year's and congratulations in what was a truly magical moment.

We move off stage and back into City Hall, where we can get out of costume, grab some bubbly, and more importantly, warm up!!!

Watching the broadcast the next day on my PVR, I was really impressed. The crew at CITY TV did an amazing job with the sound. The multi-camera shots with cut-aways and close-ups were incredibly well done. The lights looked amazing. The confetti gently floating down from above during Auld Lang Syne was a beautiful touch. The breath coming out of our mouths was striking on TV. It was very vivid.

It was a New Year's Eve I don't think I'll be forgetting anytime soon. I want to thank you all for the many emails and comments I've received so far. It means so much to know that you'd all take time out of your lives to include me into your New Year's Party plans. Please continue adding your two-cents worth.

I am grateful, Truly blessed. Have a great 2009 everyone.

For those of you who missed it, or want to catch it again, here are some links to the YouTube uploads. The quality is not very good, but it's all I know of at the moment.

The first clip starts with the Countdown, then we sing Auld Lang Syne.
"Auld Lang Syne" 1st clip

The second clip begins with Sherry, and continues with Big Girls Don't Cry, Walk Like A Man, and Who Loves You.
"The Big Three (+One)" 2nd clip

The last clip is the finale, December '63 (Oh What A Night).
"Oh What A Night!" 3rd clip