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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
A Sports-obsessed Toronto-area Actor and Singer, Teacher and Writer, Jeff Madden starred as "Frankie Valli" in both the Toronto and Australian productions of JERSEY BOYS. In 2009, he won Toronto's DORA award for outstanding performance in a musical by a male actor.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A News-Worthy Week

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

NEW CAST MEMBER:
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.

THE SHOW MUST GO ON:
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.

MONOLOGUS INTERRUPTUS:
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.

GOOD MORNING:
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.

9 comments:

stubbleyou said...

How did the Seasons enter the scene at the beginning of Rag Doll for the two shows when the lift wasn't working? Just walk out from the wings? (Maybe that's why they call it "winging it" - ha ha ha.) Or on a moving platform, like when the tour was in Costa Mesa?

From what I can see on YouTube etc, the Toronto cast looks and sounds great!

showgirl said...

I saw the show last night (Tuesday) for the first time and it won't be my last. I absolutely loved it, I still have goosebumps! Your voice gave me chills, the whole show did. The cast is amazing and I have spent most of my morning (when I should be working haha) reading your blog and watching the New Year's Eve show on YouTube. I'll definately be back to see the show again before the Toronto run finishes, it was outstanding. I've seen alot of shows and Jersey Boys is now at the top of my list, fabulous job!!!

Jeff Madden said...

Thanks to the both of you for your comments.

Showgirl, I'm glad you want to come back and see it again. Bring lots of friends!!!

Stubbleyou, to answer your question, we had a 10-minute rehearsal before the show to choreograph our entrance from up- stage right to mid-stage centre, basically walking on while singing the "Ragdoll AHH's" carrying our mic-stands, then crossing down to our spots during "I love you just the way you are". Choreo from there was the same as usual. No moving platforms.

Keep the questions coming!
Cheers,

Edward said...

Wow, I really liked the transition scene from Fallen Angel to Ragdoll - is the lift still broken?

Awesome show BTW! Me and my wife saw this 2 weeks ago and now, I'm coming back tomorrow (Thurs) with my parents and in-laws - can't wait!

2002_TiNK said...

Hi Jeff ,

I finally am able to log into your blog and add to your list of fans (am Anne)
Had a prelude to JB on New Years Eve (OMG!!!!) We couldn't wait to see the show on Jan 18. WE LOVED IT!!!!

Just bought 3 more tickets for my family today (a Sunday performance of course lol)
Me and my beau would also like to see it again.... it's going to be an expensive spring haha

JB was so positive and up-lifting and fun.
I can't rave enough about it....
My only wish would be to be able to purchase a CD with our Toronto cast singing...

take care, all the best to you and the cast of JB

Anne
: )

2002_TiNK said...

I do have a question after all

Frankie Valli's voice is quite unique ; there aren't a lot of male singers that can hit those notes even as a tenor

Did you audition for the role or were you asked?

Jeff Madden said...

Hi Anne,
If you're checking back for an answer, you'll find the long-winded version in this blog post, entitled "How I Got To Jersey". Here's the link:
http://jeffmadden.blogspot.com/2008/11/how-i-got-to-jersey.html

The short answer - I had LOTS of auditions!

Jeff

Jeff Madden said...

Another way to find it (and all olderblog posts is to look at the right of the screen, click on 2008 icon, and it'll bring up all my posts from that year.
Or, click on the little triangle beside the 2008, and a drop down menu appears, where you can choose by the month.
Either way, just scroll down and read what ever interests you.
"How I Got to Jersey" was written in November.
Hope that helps.
Jeff

2002_TiNK said...

Thanks Jeff...phew I read "How I got to Jersey" and , yes, that answered my question.

Auditioning for Frankie himself??? Nervous or what haha

Maybe JB will be held over for a few more months so we can all see you more than once lol.

Wishing you much continued success!