By Jake Goodall
The SMASH-hit musical JERSEY BOYS is landing at The Star January 2022!
Following the rise to fame of The Four Season, this story follows the tough, the bad, the good but ultimately the absolute triumph of music that became the soundtrack for generations to come.
Bravo Gold Coast got the chance to sit down with Bryn (Frankie), Elliot (Nick) and Thomas (Tommy and Director) from Legend House International’s upcoming production to get to know the show, characters, and actors!
Tell us a bit about yourself?
Bryn says: I have been performing since I was four years old, starting in dancing and singing, and moving onto acting at the age of ten. Since high school I have performed professionally for over a decade and have been in over ten musicals in that time including Jersey Boys at Spotlight Theatre in 2020! I have always loved musical theatre and felt that that is where my passion lies.
Elliot says: I grew up on the Gold Coast where my first and only love was cricket. I started singing when I was 20 and have been working acting/singing contracts in recent years.
Thomas says: I had no intentions of performing as a kid, I was put into drama classes to shift some of my excess energy but never considered it a career option. In high school, I had a real Troy Bolton (HSM3 is the best by the way!) moment where I had to pick between the final dress rehearsal of my school musical or my soccer grand final…I picked the musical and the rest is history. What followed was a lot of community theatre in my mid-late teens before I headed to the QLD Conservatorium and studied musical theatre. I left Australia (to work in a Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons show) in 2017 and that turned into 5 years of solidly working overseas on land and at sea. I’ve been fortunate to perform the hits of Frankie Valli thousands of times all over the globe and see a lot of incredible places.
What first sparked your interest in theatre and acting?
Bryn says: I have been addicted musical theatre ever since I did my first production of The King & I back in 2006. But my drive really came from seeing Jersey Boys at QPAC in 2012. It was watching that show that I thought “this is what I want to do and where I am supposed to be” I suppose it all came full circle with this show and I think that’s special.
Elliot says: My father Lachlan is a phenomenal vocalist and watching him as a child would have to be what first sparked my interest in live theatre.
Thomas says: My family includes a number of musicians & certainly a lot of characters. Growing up I can always remember listening to great music.. bands like The Eagles, Def Leppard, Lionel Richie, Phil Collins and a lot of Rock, Motown and more. I was so lucky to not be left at home when my parents went to concerts, I was allowed to go. That exposure to some of the greatest artists of our time leads to a deep love of music. I come from England and obviously theatre has a long, storied history there which I suppose helped shape my love for the stage also.
Have you learnt any new skills throughout the production?
Bryn says: I think the biggest thing I have learnt throughout this process was to be more flexible. In our current climate, things are in a constant state of flux, and we just have to be ready to roll with the punches with how things can change. It’s a very special show and I suppose being able to change and adapt with it is something that I think we are all learning throughout the process.
Elliot says: Those iconic Jersey Boy moves……
Thomas says: This process has dramatically improved my use of Excel and also my graphic design work. I’m pushing myself in a lot of areas behind the scenes to try and make this process as smooth and as slick as possible.
Jersey Boys is a very well-known musical and audiences have high expectations for the show, what makes your production stand out from the rest?
Bryn says: There are a few things that make it stand out to me. Firstly, the entire cast is made of people from Queensland. There is so much talent here and it’s really going to show everyone just how could the talent in our state can be. The other thing that stands out is the relationships that are already forming on and off the stage. The friendships, the camaraderie, and the drive that I am seeing is absolutely amazing and I think that is going to come out when you see this show on that big stage.
Elliot says: It is a very well written show and therefore should have high audience expectations. That’s something all of us in the cast understand and will work tirelessly to do it justice.
Thomas says: Ownership is a big theme for me in the rehearsal room and we have redesigned Jersey Boys from its original Broadway, and subsequent international productions, to allow for creative ownership. While the expectation for dark, industrial looking set pieces is met. We have shaped the stage in a different way to give our cast something completely their own. They know when they step onto our set or into our playing space that this is their production of Jersey Boys. It also will allow the audience to sink into this new telling of Jersey Boys and encourage them to keep their eyes open for details / visuals they wouldn’t have seen in other productions.
This show tells the story of four men trying to make it in the music and entertainment industry, what is one piece of advice you have to young actors or those wanting to break into the industry?
Bryn says: My biggest piece of advice would be to never give up and keep moving forward. Continue to strive to be a better performer. Take classes, work on your harmonies, see shows and broaden your mind when it comes to your craft. It may feel like it’s never going to happen, and the hard work is for nought. But it will happen if you have the drive to make it happen.
Elliot says: Surround yourself with good supportive people. People to ride the highs and lows of this challenging industry.
Thomas says: Talent doesn’t equal skill and skill doesn’t equal hustle. I have been very upfront with many colleagues that I am not the most talented or skilled person in the world, but I’ve managed to maintain a career due to the time I put into my projects. Knocking on doors, going to meetings, networking and hustling does more for your career than any note you can sing or step you can dance. While skill and talent is enough to get you one job, hustle and reputation will get you many jobs.
What have you done to prepare for your role in Jersey Boys? Anything Crazy?
Bryn says: I don’t think I have done anything crazy, but I suppose the biggest thing is the discipline it takes to do this show. It is a hugely emotional show with a lot of big vocals so it takes a lot to get ready for it. I think the craziest thing I’ve done is have the soundtrack of the show on constant repeat. It’s not that crazy but I think I’m sending my fiancée that way.
Elliot says: Had to shave my moustache. But I digress, the dialect work is important for this show and requires solid preparation.
Thomas says: Little tease here but I believe in the old adage .. “you don’t ask, you don’t get”. I had an existing relationship with John Lloyd Young (original Frankie Valli on Broadway / Motion Picture) from interviewing him back in 2020. I wanted to speak with him again about Jersey Boys and I thought a nice way for our Seasons to develop their characters and better understand the piece would be to talk with the people who originated the roles on stage. On a whim I reached out to Christian Hoff, J. Robert Spencer and Daniel Reichard as well as John Lloyd Young. They each were more than happy to talk with their Australian counterparts and not only will this help us prepare but also help us pay our respects to the guys who laid the foundations for us.
How did you get involved in this production of Jersey Boys, what’s the story?
Bryn says: Well, last year when Covid hit, I was performing overseas on a cruise ship and we got stuck in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, near Tahiti. It took almost a month before we hit land and then after 30 hours of flying and a fourteen day quarantine, I was back on the Gold Coast. With no work, I wanted to continue to grow and perform so I signed up to do more community theatre at Spotlight Theatre with a show called Footloose. Doing that show reignited my love for musical theatre and the show that Spotlight was doing next was Jersey Boys. It felt like a sign, so I auditioned and eventually got cast as Frankie Valli. It’s the show I’ve always wanted to do, and I was so proud to have done a 5 week season and I thought, that was that. Little did I know that the Director of Jersey Boys at Redcliffe had come down to see our production on its closing weekend. That person is none other than, Thomas Armstrong-Robley. When word started getting around that a company was considering doing a professional production at The Star I thought, this can’t be a coincidence, I’m meant to do this, so I waited patiently for the audition notices. A few days later I received a call from Robert Clark, the producer and Musical Director saying he wanted to meet me for a coffee to talk about things. That day, I met Thomas in person, we clicked like old High School friends, and I knew something special was beginning. They asked me if I would be interested in taking on the role of Frankie Valli and well, the rest is history.
Elliot says: I was stuck in London during 2020 lockdown at the same time as our director Thomas. We’d known each other and caught up a few times for socially distanced beers in Regents Park. Then we are both home, he had news of upcoming projects. The audition notice popped up, it’s one of my favourite shows, so of course I auditioned.
Thomas says: I was overseas when COVID hit and I ended up spending 8 months in London, no work, no income, no nothing. I needed to get back to Australia and get my career back on track so I reached out to Madeleine Johns (president of Redcliffe Musical Theatre and ROAR Academy) to ask about potentially teaching. Instead, she asked if I was interested in directing their production of Jersey Boys. Being desperate for a creative outlet and keen to return to Australia, I took her hand off. I couldn’t have anticipated that the unpaid, community production I produced with RMT in Redcliffe would live past March. The Star Casino were seeking QLD based productions to play their showroom and Robert Clark (our Musical Director / Executive Producer) thought we should pitch a Pro-Am production of Jersey Boys. Soon enough, the rights were secured, the Star was booked and we set out to find an incredible cast of QLD based talent. It’s funny, when I did my hotel quarantine back in December 2020, I could see the Star out of my window.. little did I know, I was looking at the future of Jersey Boys.
Can you reveal anything secret about the production?
Bryn says: I can’t reveal too much, other than, the ideas for the set and the design is going to knock people’s socks off. The creative teams we have involved are some of the bests in Queensland and it’s going to blow the roof off The Star.
Elliot says: The real show will be watching our Musical Director on the conductors monitor…..
Thomas says: I think, just expect the same well-written piece of theatre but presented in a new way, almost as a play rather than a musical. Our set doesn’t follow the same schematics as Broadway or The West End, our cast is a different size, each track is custom built to suit the performer. In that way, if you think you know Jersey Boys and have seen one of the fantastic tours that took Australia by storm, I can promise, you haven’t seen this version yet.
What is your dream role, onstage or on screen?
Bryn says: Funnily enough, my dream role is this one. Ever since seeing the show back in 2012, I didn’t just think “the stage” is where I was supposed to be, I thought “this show and this role is what I’m supposed to do” I worked a lot of the last nine years to increase my range, get my falsetto in a very strong sustainable place, work on my accents and acting to eventually do this role. It may seem crazy to some, but when a role like this means this much, you must work on it until you succeed. Sometimes for nine years.
Elliot says: Originating roles for new plays/musical, whether the part is big or small brings me the greatest joy.
Thomas says: Years ago…I had a go to answer for this but honestly, this year has introduced me to multiple dream roles that I didn’t even consider. I think one thing I’ve always wanted to do is play a Horror Movie villain…something like a Freddy or Jigsaw. I’m not necessarily a huge horror fan but I can imagine portraying something so different from day to day life would be a tonne of fun.
If someone is still unsure whether to come see Jersey Boys what would you say to them?
Bryn says: I would say, these guys changed music for everyone. The number of songs they are famous for that you sing on a daily basis; you wouldn’t even know it’s theirs. When you come see jersey boys, you come for the music, but you stay for the story. You will laugh, you will cry, you will sing along and at the end of it all, you will realise why this show means so much to me and the rest of the cast.
Elliot says: It’s a true story told with fabulous music and has many moments of comedic brilliance. I truly believe it’s a show for all ages.
Thomas says: I think that audiences have a big part in changing the culture of theatre in Australia and I really think QLD homes some of the most beautiful theatres and best performers. With that, major tours should be starting in our home-state and I want audiences to come celebrate QLD artists, home-grown productions and help us put Queensland on the map. Not only that but in how many theatres can you potentially win a jackpot after seeing a show.
Jersey Boys plays for a limited season only at The Star Gold Coast from 6 January 2022! Legend House International’s production is produced by Robert Clark and Shane Rushbrook, directed by Thomas Armstrong-Robley with musical direction by Robert Clark and choreography by Jennifer Morison.
Make sure to follow their social media for a series of interview over the next month where each of The Four Seasons from this production speak to their original counterpart! The first of these interviews is already live featuring Bryn’s interview with John Lloyd Young. Check them out on their Facebook or Instagram and book your tickets to this fantastic show now! It is not to be missed!