The performers who play The Four Seasons have been getting to know Dayton since the national tour of the Broadway smash “Jersey Boys” set up camp at the Schuster Center. It continues there for 24 performances through Feb. 5.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Oregon District,” said Colby Foytik, who plays Tommy DeVito.
Brandon Andrus, who plays Nick Massi, has been to the U. S. Air Force Museum, where “a lady recognized me from the show.”
Brad Weinstock, who plays Four Seasons frontman Frankie Valli, has been “pretty much a monk,” because resting his voice after projecting in a falsetto several nights a week requires down time. “I have gotten out for movie night and bowling night.”
Jason Kappus, who is Bob Gaudio in the show, said, “Sometimes it’s just nice to be in a town with a Walmart.”
The four, who sat down for coffee Wednesday morning, Jan. 25, at the downtown Boston Stoker, are also still getting to know one another less than two months into their tour across the country.
Just over a week ago, they were wrapping up six weeks in Philadelphia’s 1,850-seat Forrest Theatre, which was built in 1927. They’ve moved on to Dayton’s 2,300-seat Schuster Center, which Andrus said “is a beautiful theater. It’s state of the art in every way.”
They come from all over. Andrus is from Philadelphia, Foytik grew up in Southern California, Kappus is from Seattle, and Weinstock is an authentic New Jersey native.
Maybe that’s why his immediate thought was, “What did I do?” when a fan called out to him in the parking garage of the theater. When he realized she was voicing appreciation, he got it: “Oh,”
They are a unit in “Jersey Boys,” a merger that began during their first week of rehearsals in New York, which they remember as “Four Seasons Boot Camp.”
“We’re an entity. I’m much more used to playing the lead, or being a member of the ensemble,” said Andrus, who performed in the Broadway roller disco musical “Xanadu,” “which is as far from this as you can get. The story told in ‘Jersey Boys’ is not all unicorns and rainbows.”
Foytik said another thing that sets this show apart for the musical theater performer is that “while developing a character is always critical, we’re playing real people.”
Kappus said there’s a responsibility that comes with that. “Bob” (Gaudio), the singer and songwriter he plays, “was there for all of our auditions and previews. He would send notes back. That kind of first-hand expertise is a treat. It can also be a little intimidating.”
There would seem to be a disconnect between four men in their 20s playing four men in their 60s and 70s. Frankie Valli was born in 1934.
Not so, the young men say.
Kappus feels “like I grew up with this music. These songs are always being re-done.”
For Foytik, “It’s almost subliminally within you.”
Weinstock was in junior high the first time he heard “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” which is his favorite song in “Jersey Boys.” “I think anyone who ever played Frankie would feel blessed to get to perform it,” he said. But the version he heard as a schoolboy was a cover recorded by Lauryn Hill.
The others’ favorite songs in the musical aren’t necessarily the ones they get to sing most prominently.
Andrus loves “My Boyfriend’s Back,” which features Foytik.
Foytik favors “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” and “My Eyes Adored You,” both with Weinstock.
Kappus is so crazy about “Who Loves You?” that if he hears it in the lobby after the show, “I get excited about it all over again.”
Foytik said there is still “a great story and a solid play” without the songs. “That’s one test of any musical.”
Landing a part in “Jersey Boys” is like finding gold in a profession as uncertain as show business. It’s a hit and people are going to want to see it for months, maybe years, to come.
“That’s as good as it gets,” said Weinstock, who said he was unemployed a year ago. Two years ago, he was Boq in the national tour of “Wicked.”
Andrus was recovering from voice surgery two years ago.
Foytik was doing “‘Jersey Boys’ in Vegas a year ago. Two years ago, I was playing Perchik in the national tour of ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’”
Andrus said it would be wrong to take the audience’s love for granted.
Des McAnuff, the Tony Award-winning director who staged “Jersey Boys,” “reminded us that for every performance we give, there will be someone in the audience who is seeing a show for the first time. Not just this show, but any show. We can completely change that person’s life. That’s what happened to me. The first show I ever saw was “The Who’s Tommy,” which McAnuff also directed.
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2377 or tmorris @DaytonDailyNews.com.