'Jersey Boys' actor opens up to Happy Valley
UNIVERSITY PARK – Who doesn’t love a good rags-to-riches story?
"Jersey Boys," a musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons being the blue collar boys who made it big in the pop music industry, is coming to the Eisenhower Auditorium at 7:30 p.m., on Tuesday, April 17 and Wednesday, April 18.
Chris Stevens, who will play one of the original Four Seasons — Nick Massi, is excited for the audience to have “an incredible evening of entertainment, from an energetic and inspiring cast who love showing up to work every single night.”
The actor finds "Jersey Boys" to be a show full of “heart, determination and overcoming hardship”, all while being paired with “groundbreaking, classic music and a story that changed the music industry forever.”
Stevens moved to New York City because of the show, falling in love with its storyline in December of 2006, the year it won the Tony Award.
“'Jersey Boys' has been a complete gift for me — truly a dream come true,” Steves said. “I was also the only one of the 'seasons' who was brand new to the production so I added a lot of pressure on myself.”
Stevens had to invest himself in the music, choreography, scene work as well as to learning how to convincingly play the bass guitar.
“It took about two months to get fully comfortable with the show where I didn’t have to think about every specific detail I had learned,” Stevens said. “So yes, that meant some days I was walking out on stage second guessing everything; however, I am still here, and the show is in my body now.”
Stevens is inspired by the show’s storyline, where blue-collar kids rose to fame after facing the many trials set before them.
One quote from the script really stands out to him: “Family is everything.”
“Not only do we see and hear about the ups and downs of Frankie’s marriage and family (throughout the show) but we learn that family can also be who we choose to surround ourselves with,” Stevens said. “Though not related by blood, the band was indeed, a family. They were four ‘brothers’ who all were working toward the same goal, yet also shared differences of opinion and ultimately had to learn to tolerate one another and accept one another to cooperate for the best interests of the group.”
Stevens’s character, the original bass player of the Four Seasons, passed away Dec. 24, 2000 due to cancer.
“All he wanted to do was play and create music,” Stevens said. “He taught Frankie to sing properly and assisted him in honing his talent.”
Massi was an interesting character for Stevens to play, to say the least.
“Massi loved his women, his work and his booze. He wasn’t someone who always wanted to hang out, but he always showed up and wanted to see the group succeed,” Stevens said. “He was quiet, a little uptight, often overlooked amongst the foursome and kept to himself.”
For Stevens, what he loved most about playing Massi was his dry humor as well as role in the band.
“The audience doesn’t really get to know Massi’s side of things until the second act, so it’s an exciting challenge to just exist and go through the story with a couple moments of comedy while the other seasons are really driving the plot,” Stevens said. “I also love performing these incredible songs that Massi helped create as a founding member of this sensational group. It’s also quite special getting to perform alongside three other talented gentleman who excel in their roles.”
Stevens finds that the men he works with in the show have voices that blend well together, to recreate the sound that has stirred seats for years.
“The best memory of 'Jersey Boys' so far was performing in the first cast that ever played the state of New Jersey, my home state, and also getting the opportunity to meet the real Bob Gaudio a couple of times,” Stevens said. “Meeting one of the men whose story I get to assist in telling on a daily basis was simply surreal. I learn so much about the group and their lives every time I get to talk with him.”
Stevens also enjoys the opportunity to travel the country for the show.
“I have certainly enjoyed seeing this beautiful country and the wonderful nooks and crannies each city offers,” he said. “Simply put, 'Jersey Boys' is the gift that keeps on giving.”
For tickets, visit www.cpa.psu.edu.