About Me

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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.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My NEW YEARS EVE Thoughts

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.

12:00:30am:
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.

12:01am:
The music begins. We sing it. A peaceful feeling comes over me. It feels great.

12:02am:
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

Enjoy!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

You don't know me but i just wanted to let you know that you and the whole cast and crew did an AMAZING job on the show today. I just found your blog when doing extra research on the show for a play review i have to write for school and i love to read about the work that actually went inot such a huge magnificent performence.

Your acting was phenomenal, especially the part when your on the phone learning about Francine (even though during that intense silence and emotion the old man next to me said out loud "That's Life!")

That's all i wanted to say,
keep up the great work!

Jen

James Pew said...

Jeff your a machine! The New Years videos sound great. Heather and I will be seeing the show live in February, really looking forward to it. Freddy saw the show and has been raving about it ever since.

Happy New Year Jeff and congratulations on all your success.

Cheers
James

Jeff Madden said...

Thank you (Jen and James) so much!
Much appreciated.
XO
Jeff

commish said...

Wow. I can't rave enough about the Jersey Boys. It's fabulous. Is all that singing done live or was New Year's lip synched?

Anonymous said...

AMAZING! i fought my cousins because they wanted to watch the jonas brothers on another channel but I wouldnt have any of it! And because of that they think im old since I'd rather watch the Jersey Boys perform! I guess 19 is old to them anyway..
A wonderful performance, I saw the show Dec 21st and it left me hungry for more! New Years Eve was perfect it is the best way to start the new year! Thanks to you and the rest of the cast for braving the intense cold to perform for all of us

You're a Star
Congratulations on all the success & heres to even more in the future

-Vanessa

Audrey said...

Jeff, I'm so glad I learned about your blog through the JB Blog. I've read the three entries linked in your interview. I LOVED reading every word about all your experiences. You have an engaging way of reporting .

I've seen the show in NY many times and in Vegas (and soon Hartford, I hope) and have now found myself calculating how close Toronto actually is to me (here in NJ).

Your NY Eve's performance left me speechless; I couldn't imagine singing, dancing and playing instruments in that freezing temperature. I wanted to leave a comment on the JBB when the Youtube was posted, but honestly I was at a loss at what you spectacularly pulled off in the most challenging circumstances.

I look forward to following "Taking the Wheel" and maybe even finding my way up to Toronto. All the best, Audrey

Anonymous said...

The entire new years performance was exeptionally well done. I can't even imagine being up there performing in that cold!! (Lucky that you had those heat packs atleast!).
Im really interested in music and theater and I love watching shows like this and seeing such great talent up on stage.

Thanks so much! Keep performing and recording!

Anonymous said...

Hi!
I went to see the Jersey Boys for a school trip on the 20th and I thought you in particular was superb! Your singing and acting is perfect!

The whole cast was fabulous, but I was blown away by your singing =]

You can sing reallyyyyyy highhh! I was wondering, did you have special training to be able to reach those notes?

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