Last Updated on 16th March 2021
After a phenomenal seven years, Jersey Boys continues to run in the West End with no sign of stopping. As the national tour of the international hit musical Jersey Boys kicks off in Manchester, BritishTheare.com caught up with the tour’s Frankie Valli – Tim Driesen to talk about the show and the challenges of playing a living legend.
You’ve just returned from playing Frankie Valli in Utrecht, that must have been an experience.
“It’s a bit of a culture shock going from Dutch to English, In Utrecht, the songs were in English, but the script was in Dutch. I did a brief stint in the show in the West End last February, so I already knew the script but this is a slightly different production. It’s almost like starting from scratch with a completely new group of people in a new production which is great. “
“It does however mean you can’t just step in. It’s a case of going back to basics and seeing what the chemistry is and how the scenes play. Also the stage is a bit smaller so my quick changes don’t need to be so fast as there is less distance to travel. It’s definitely a challenge.”
You’ve mentioned on social media that you felt this is one of the best shows you have been involved in. How does it differ from other shows you’ve done?
“For an actor let’s face it you want to be on stage in every scene singing every big number you can, and being seen as much as possible and having great costumes. As Frankie you’re never off stage. It’s everything you could ever want as a male actor in a show. Some actors have compared it to being a male Ephaba (Wicked) in a lot of ways, in that you get to sing pretty much all of the songs in the show. “
“Jersey Boys is the story of a band trying to make it. I’ve always wanted to be in a boy band. In the past I did Never Forget (The Take That Musical) so I’ve gone from being in the background doing doo wops and lots of choreography to being front and centre in a full suit singing the lead. “
“It’s a great show and it’s very gratifying to be able to take the audience on a journey with you every night telling the story of the band and the struggles they had getting to the top.”
“The story could be historical, it could be now, apart from the fact that the players have changed and the music style has changed. Although having said that Begging was a hit two or three years ago for Madcon, so you think that the music in the sixties is still as fresh as it ever was. It’s about the struggle to make it, the personalities of the band and their relationships. There’s a lot of testosterone flying around.”
How does the show challenge you vocally?
“It’s a big show vocally. I warm up for about 45 minutes each night prior to the show. Keeping hydrated throughout the show is also very important. You really can’t party or go out as much as you would like to. There’s a lot of sacrifices you have to make to make that sound every night and to make it sound good because you can’t just phone it in. You can’t take it easy, you have to be on it every night. But it’s worth it when you get to sing songs like Sherry and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. And the audience reaction makes it worth it. It’s very gratifying.“
“In a given performance week I do six of the eight shows, just like in every other production of Jersey Boys around the world with another actor playing two shows per week. “
It’s not that often where you get to play a character in a show who is still alive. Does that present any challenges to you as a performer?
“You always have it in the back of your mind, however the good thing for an actor is that not many people know what they were like, because in those days there wasn’t much known about the artists behind the songs until this show came along. So to an extent we are giving an impression of the Four Seasons with some artistic license and theatricality thrown in.”
What sort of audiences do you get coming to Jersey Boys?
“We get such a wide range of ages coming to the show. The youngest I know of was about seven, and the eldest was in their nineties. The great thing about the music in the show is that it is timeless, the songs endure. Grandparents bring their grandkids to hear the music they used to listen to and what’s amazing is that quite often it’s the kids who are asking their parents to go back and see the show again.”
“There are kids who come to the show who have had duplicate red jackets made and really get into the spirit of the show. It’s the great thing about the experience of the show in the theatre really – you just can’t download live theatre. There’s no substitute for it. To hear good music being done by a live band with live singers is very special. We are blessed in that we have great songs and a great story that people want to see.”
Visit the Jersey Boys Tour Website for tour dates.
Find out more about Tim by visiting his website.