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'Jersey Boys' Stars Re-Unite For Thrilling Performance with Wichita Falls Symphony
The Midtown Men pictured below
'Jersey Boys' Singers Bring Broadway and Past to Excited Crowd
Four of the brightest stars from the original Broadway Hit "Jersey Boys" repeatedly brought a sold out crowd in Wichita Falls, Texas to its feet last night, Saturday, March 22 as they reprised many of the greatest songs from not only Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, but also other groups from the 'sixties. Backing up the the group called "The Midtown Men" was the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra under the direction of guest conductor Jerry Streichen.
One member of the audience was heard to excitedly say after the performance, "Wow! That took me back to the days when I was cruising around in my '57 Chevy!"
'Sherry' Rendition Reminds Dr. Kenneth Aboussie of Youth
The group's rendition of the Four Seasons hit "Sherry" reminded Dr. Kenneth Aboussie of a special time in his youth. The Wichita Falls dentist said that song was a huge hit when he was playing football at the University of Oklahoma. He further said, "I thought the combination of the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra and the Midtown Men performing that song was something special."
Travis Cloer, who went on to star as Frankie Valli in the Las Vegas company for 8 1/2 years, hit all the high notes that Valli did, as he performed the lead singer's role Saturday night at the Memorial Auditorium. Cloer starred with the the other three Midtown Men in the original Broadway hit "Jersey Boys."
'Jersey Boys' Closed After 11 1/2 Years
The record-shattering run on Broadway of "Jersey Boys" ended only after 11 1/2 years in January of 2017. The Midtown Men performed several Four Seasons recordings including "Dawn", "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Sherry" as well as a pair of Frankie Valli classics "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and "Oh What A Night (December 1963".
The other performers from "Jersey Boys" who joined Cloer Saturday were J. Robert Spencer, Daniel Reichard and Christian Hoff. Spencer, who lived in nearby Plano, Texas, from 1981-1985, recognized Wichita Falls resident Susan Mansur, who was in the crowd. Spencer said Mansur and he had performed together in a production in Nashville, Tenn. several years ago.
Midtown Men Appeared On Today Show
Formed in 2007, The Midtown Men reunites four stars from the Original Cast of Broadway's Jersey Boys. Following their historic run on Broadway, the four artists shared the stage for over a thousand performances and appeared on The Today Shot, The Late Show with David Letterman, Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve and the U.S. Open.
Beatles song inspired One of Midtown Men
Spencer sang lead on the Beatles hit song "In My Life", which he said had special meaning to him. The bass said he was vacuuming the floor at home one day while he was new to the role of husband and father. He further noted the Beatles song came on the radio and inspired him on that particular occasion. The former Jersey Boy said John Lennon and Paul McCartney were both credited with writing the song, although the two argued as to which one deserved the most credit for authoring the hit.
Former Texas resident J.Robert Spencer one of Jersey Boys
Midtown Men Rehearse Four Seasons Hits
Motown's Jackson Five and Temptations Hits Score With Crowd
The magnetic group performed a Motown Medley of songs which elicited an excited response from the crowd. Among the songs were "Ain't Too Proud To Beg", "I Want You Back", "I Second That Emotion", "My Girl", "Just My Imagination" and "You're All I Need To Get By". "I Want You Back" was originally recorded by the Jackson Five in 1968 and brought the biggest reaction from the enthusiastic crowd although the Temptations' hit "You're All I Need To Get By" and "My Girl" also received huge receptions as people in the crowd sang along.
Symphony Performs Theme From 'Titanic'
The show began with a "Hollywood Blockbusters' set including the theme from the mega-hit movie "Titanic." Guest Conductor Streichen followed that with a shoutout to his 90 year old parents who were in the crowd. Streichen said he'd grown up in the northern Oklahoma town of Tonakawa where he'd always dreamed of a musical career. Tonkawa is near Blackwell, which is only a few miles south of the Kansas border on the highway to Wichita.
Temptations and Jackson Five
Although these four originally made their names as cast members playing the roles of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on Broadway, they extended their program in Wichita Falls to include the Temptations and Jackson Five. The crowd broke into appreciative applause at the familiar sounds of "Get Ready", a mega hit for the Temptations. The MIdtown Men not only had the voices to duplicate the classic, but also the ability to perform the familiar choreographic moves of the Motown group.
Performing with the orchestra behind them, the quartet continued their high energy performance with the Beatles "Can't Buy Me Love" and then "Up on the Roof".
Midtown Men Charismatic
From the moment all four of the Midtown Men sprinted onto the stage it was clear the night would be special. Christian Hoff won a Tony Award for his performance as Tommy DeVito in "Jersey Boys", as well as Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations. This talented performer also was the voice of Richie Rich in the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series.
Daniel Riehard is best known for his portrayal of chief songwriter and original Four Seasons member Bob Glaudio in the box office smash "Jersey Boys." He followed his "Jersey Boys" performane with a critically acclaimed performance as Candide in Leonard Bernstein's "Candide" at the New York City Opera.
Spencer is a Tony Award nominated actor, independent film director, producer and writer. In 2004, he was cast in the role of Nick Massi in the Tony and Grammy Award winning muscial "Jersey Boys". He followed that up in 2008 in the lead role of the Broadway hit production "Next To Normal."
He was nominated for the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical for his extraordinary performance in that Broadway production. He can currently be seen and heard in CD/DVD through Sony Masterworks with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops in the PBS performances of "Handel's Messiah Rocks", in which he was nominated for a 2010 Midwest Emmy Award for Best On Camera Performance by a leading actor.
'The Pink Panther' Performed
After intermission, the WFSO performed the Henry Mancini theme from "The Pink Panther" and "I Want To Teach the World to Sing", which was the song for a Coca-Cola commercial. Steichen even displayed a bottle of Coke during this performance.
The Midtown Men changed out of their blue suits into red jackets for the second act of the production. Not tired at all by their exuberant first act performance, the four stars maintained their up tempo mode with "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."
Combination of Symphony and Sixties Music Popular
One member of the audience was heard to mention the combination of sixties music and the symphony orchestra was a great formula. He said this performance and the one with the John Denver tribute singer in 2016 were two of the best symphony performances he's seen. Certainly, the mixture of the symphony with more contemporary music has brought out the largest crowds in recent memory. This exhilarating performance brings to an end the symphony season on a high note. Symphony attendance will definitely be enhanced in the future by repeating this successful formula. Hopefully, the symphony directors will continue this trend in the future.
As for The Midtown Men, the future is extremely bright. Their tour in the past has included has taken them to Beijing and across both the United States and Canada while performing over 600 shows. They have performed with 31 major symphony orchestras. The group has released two CD's.
Jerry Gossett Praises Performance
Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra Development Chair and Advertising Chair Jerry Gossett said the performance was "twice as good as I thought it'd be." Gossett attended the season's finale with wife Kristen Gossett who has been an influential leader with the symphony for many years.