The Midtown Men serenade Nashville with 60s faves

Last fall, Jersey Boys descended back upon Nashville. For those not familiar, Jersey Boys 'documents' the success and break up of The Four Seasons. Opening in 2005 on Broadway, the production has since toured the world. Nashville eagerly awaits four of the Broadway production's original cast members, Tony Award winner Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and Tony Award nominee J. Robert Spencer- better known as The Midtown Men- for a three-night special engagement with the Nashville Symphony April 3-5. 

Longoria, who played both the roles of Joe Pesci ("Joey") and eventually Frankie Valli himself, is the youngest member of The Midtown Men. O&AN chatted with Longoria about his boy-band guilty pleasures, the Jersey Boys movie and what's next in his world. 

You starred in Jersey Boys on Broadway in 2005 and almost 10 years later are in the midst of your third national tour with The Midtown Men- was there an instant connection and brotherhood from those Broadway days that inspired this?

Is it really ten years? Remember, I started Jersey Boys when I was 12. (laughs) But yes, we would always sing together in the hallways and just mess around. Of course we would do Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons on stage, but off stage, we would experiment with other groups like Motown, Smokey Robinson, The Jackson 5, just for fun. Then we got asked to sing at different events, our first was Katie Couric's 50th birthday party. That was really the start of it when we said hey we need to put something together outside the show and it just grew from there.


A different type of, but Midtown Men at its core is a boy band— do you have any boy band guilty pleasures that you would admit to?

(laughs) You know I love listening to old-school 'N Sync but I also really like One Direction. 


Is Justin Timberlake 'N Sync for you, or was it all five guys?

Oh, it was Justin but also J.C. too.


The Midtown Men’s songbook collection is based in the 60s— is there any song that you guys haven’t performed that you’d like to?

You know what's funny, I was just on iTunes and listening to some Aretha Franklin and thought you know what, I should put one of these songs in


Being the youngest in the group, is your passion for 60s music singular or are you a fan of contemporary music as well? If so, who are the artists you listen to today?

I love Katy Perry. I like Sara Bareilles a lot and of course Bruno Mars sounds great on all his stuff. I like all the contemporary things because that's the kind of music I really want to get into. This whole 60s journey has been amazing and it's great to sing these songs. It's kind of like they say as a dancer, you can dance all these other things but you have to dance ballet first because ballet is the foundation. 

That's how I feel about the 60s music. It's like the foundation that I've been really lucky to sing for ten years, as you pointed out, but to really see how the root of that kind of soul lives today. 


In 2012, there was mention of a dance album you were working on- did that happen?

Yeah, I've written a few songs- four so far, three recorded- and with The Midtown Men I've been busy but I perform them in NYC nightlife.

Living in NYC, have you ever gone back to Broadway or attended another performance of Jersey Boys that wasn’t your own? How did it feel?

The funniest one was when I saw the London production. Just to see all those guys with the London accents do the Jersey accents. But it's really an out of body experience because you see all these people on a different continent doing the same moves you did without ever meeting them. 

Jersey Boys will also become a feature length film this summer directed by Clint Eastwood- were you or any of the guy ever approached about the film even for fan boy cameo appearances?

No, we've been on the road for three and half years and have been booked for a solid year in advance so we didn't have time to do anything or even consider that. But I'm seeing it for sure.


Your 2012-13 tour took the group to over 77 cities, any favorite memories?

Sometimes you go to towns you've never ever heard of and you wonder if it's going to be lame, if the gay bars are divey or is there even going to be a community there. But sometimes you get really surprised. I got really surprised when we had a gig in Lexington, Kentucky. We get there and it was like a full-out gay college town, really open and free and the nightlife was great. It was really refreshing to see the youth, the next generation, being so comfortable in that kind of town. I didn't expect that.


There’s a sense of nostalgia built into your performances and set-list- what makes you nostalgic?

Mariah Carey's 90's songs. I am always asked who inspired me growing up and guys laugh at me in the interview but it's true- Mariah Carey. I hear her old-school albums and that's what really taught me how to sing high and in my falsetto. I was imitating her and singing her songs, trying to hit those high notes.


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