It would, perhaps, be more of a surprise if, in the course of an interview, no one from JERSEY BOYS did an impression of their co-star Christopher Walken. I may have forced the issue just a little by asking John Lloyd Young, Michael Lomenda, and Erich Bergen if being in Walken’s proximity prompted them to perfect their impression of him, or of their director Clint Eastwood. Aside from that bit of frippery, what I most wanted to know from them when we spoke on June 16, 2014, was what it was like to finally be able to see their performances after playing, respectively, Frankie Valli, Nick Massi, and Bob Gaudio on stage for so many years. Their answers were both moving and perceptive, as were their memories of going onstage with JERSEY BOYS for the first time. In Young’s case, it was the first performance ever, and the public was not clamoring for another “jukebox” musical. Charming, funny, and energetic, they were an interview that ended much too soon.
JERSEY BOYS is based on the Tony-winning Broadway musical of the same name, it is the story of how Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons came out of Jersey to conquer the pop music world, while not being able to conquer their own demons. The emphasis is on character, while not skimping on the music that still echoes in people’s lives today. And it’s a film as tough as the streets they came from, as wild as the times they had, and as tender as Valli’s heart when it comes to dealing with loss and doing the right thing. Bold in the way it tells the truth, and includes the phrase “objective correlative”. Young returns to the role of Valli that he originated on Broadway and for which he won a Tony, among other awards. In addition to concert work, he was the first guest invited to sing on television’s GLEE, and is also a talented artist on canvas as well as on his vocal chords. Lomenda and Bergen have both been in stage productions of Jersey Boys, Lomenda plays Nick, the quiet guy Season with a slow-burning fuse. Bergen is Bob Gaudio, the non-Jersey boy who wrote the songs. Lomenda’s previous stage work includes HAIRSPRAY and JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAM COAT, not to mention playing James Bond creator Ian Fleming for Canadian television. This is his big screen debut. Bergen’s stage work includes ANYTHING GOES and A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, as well as appearing on television’s GOSSIP GIRL and CHILDRENS HOSPITAL, and on the big screen in HOW SWEET IT IS. The film co-stars Vincent Piazza, Rene Marino, Katherine Narducci, Mike Doyle, Freya Tingley, Joseph Russo, Billy Gardell, Eria Piccininni, and Christopher Walken. The film was directed by Clint Eastwood from a script by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, based on their book for the original musical.