The Midtown Men Featuring Four Original Members of Jersey Boys to Perform Nov. 7
The Midtown Men will as part of Arizona Musicfest 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7 at Highlands Church in Scottsdale
J. Robert Spencer is excited to return to making music with The Midtown Men. A Tony Award Nominated Actor, Independent Film Director, Producer, and Writer, he originated the role of Nick Massi in the Tony and Grammy Award winning “Jersey Boys.” He’ll be singing for fans with The Midtown Men 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7 at Highlands Church in Scottsdale. Purchase tickets here.
Scottsdale.com recently caught up with J. Robert Spencer about his upcoming performance in Scottsdale. Although he traverses the country with The Midtown Men and with various other projects, but currently calls Oregon his home base. Spencer says, “I lived in New York 23 years. I’m a gypsy, but if I need to go back to New York to gig, then I go back to New York and gig. Right now, there are some projects on the side, but the main ingredient is The Midtown Men and we’ve been jamming on the road going on seven years. It’s been very successful and we love doing it.”
Spencer originated the role of Dan Goodman in the Pulitzer Prize winning Broadway musical “Next To Normal,” for which he received nominations for both the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actor, and Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical.
Becoming The Midtown Men
Arizona Musicfest will present The Midtown Men, The Original Cast of Broadway’s Jersey Boys, who The New York Times described as having “the air of the Rat Pack, Motown and a nightclub act all rolled into one,” on Monday, Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Highlands Church, 9050 E. Pinnacle Peak Road in Scottsdale. Tickets are $34 to $76 and can be purchased at www.azmusicfest.org or at the door.
Tony Award winner Christian Hoff (Tommy DeVito in Jersey Boys), Tony nominated J. Robert Spencer (Nick Massi), Michael Longoria (Frankie Valli) and Daniel Reichard (Bob Gaudio) celebrate the songs of the 60s in a high-octane musical tour de force. The New York Daily News wrote that “The Midtown Men sound as crisp as their Rat Pack-inspired suits. Their voices blend together so flawlessly on stage.”
The concert is the final performance of Arizona Musicfest’s first-ever Fall Fest, the opening series.
Spencer fell in love with a more classic style of music when he was quite young. He explains, “My father was in the Navy, but when I say that I moved around from Delaware, New Jersey, Minnesota, Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia, it wasn’t because the military aspect of his life. It was because at that point in his life, he was a retail manager. He was very successful for 42 years.”
Spencer continues, “We spent a lot of time in the car as a family and we would listen to the radio listening to the classic rock and roll stations - 60s, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Four Seasons, The Everly Brothers and things like that. Music was huge and still is a huge part of the fabric of my everything!” He goes on to add sweetly, “When I hear bluegrass I instantly think of my mom-mom and pop-pop and the farm. I mean, instantly.” When the opportunity arose for Spencer to audition for The Midtown Men, he knew it was the perfect fit for him and he was entirely familiar with the music.
“It was one of those things that came about because the Jersey Boys was so huge when it hit Broadway. It was like Hamilton before there was Hamilton,” Spencer says with a laugh. “It was huge and people were asking us to perform it at their corporate parties, private parties and this and that. But, we couldn’t do the music of The Four Seasons, because we were doing it on Broadway.” In a unique twist, the group was offered a chance to perform some Motown and other similar tunes at a gig down in Atlantic City.
Spencer says, “It was a Saturday, which meant we had two shows – a matinee at 2 p.m. and an evening show at 8 p.m. One of the investors of The Jersey Boys, is a wonderful person. He wanted the four of us guys to perform for his employees in Atlantic City on that Saturday at 11 a.m.” The group loved the prospect of doing a singing show of tunes from The Beach Boys and The Beatles, but there was a looming show at 2 p.m. that same day!
“He flew us back and forth in a helicopter for this party!” gushes Spencer. “The four of us literally took off from New York and we helicoptered to Atlantic City and we get there and we obviously had the musicians and everything set ahead of time. We do the gig. We run back to the helipad and we take off and land in New York at 1:15 p.m.” A limo met the group with a police escort as they zoomed back to the theater to perform as The Jersey Boys. They just made the ½ hour call time for curtains. Needless to say the stage manager for The Jersey Boys was sweating bullets.
Audiences that now come to enjoy The Midtown Men now get a completely polished and fine-tuned show that includes all the show-stopping favorites that the group loves to perform. Many people have seen the show 25 or more times!
The Midtown Men will also change up the song selection, too, in order to keep the material fresh and fun. “We just put together a beautiful new, great arrangement of a Four Seasons, Frankie Valli medley – six tunes woven together. We’ve added The Lovin’ Spoonful to the mix and a version of Steppin’ Stone by The Monkees that was originally done by Paul Revere and the Raiders.”
It will be an unforgettable evening with The Midtown Men as part of the Arizona Musicfest. The group will be performing a Highlands Church at 9050 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Scottsdale.
More About J. Robert Spencer
He has voiced two animated features: “Nightmare Campus” and the critically acclaimed, award winning “Grave of the Fireflies.” His portrayal as a psychopathic killer named Bob in the independent feature film “Night of the Dog” earned him a Best Supporting Actor Nomination at the SMMASH Film Festival. The film won Audience Awards for best feature film at Palm Beach, Santa Barbara, SMMASH and PBIFF. J. Robert's independent film company 7 Spencer Productions, with which he produced, wrote, starred and directed the comedy “Farm Girl In New York”.
The film was featured on The Today Show with Ann Currey and Al Roker, and was the official selection of the Sacramento International Film Festival (Nominated for Best Comedy and Best Actress,) as well as Big Apple, Atlanta, Buffalo Niagara, and Seattle True Independent Film Festivals, distributed by Maverick Entertainment. He recently produced and starred in his second independent feature titled “Heterosexuals." With Wood Media Films, he executive produced an environmental documentary titled “On Coal River," an official selection of Silverdocs, Camden, Hamptons, Chesapeake and New Orleans Film Festivals. Through Sony Masterworks, he appeared with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops in PBS's “Handel’s Messiah Rocks," for which he was Nominated for a Midwest Emmy Award for Best On Camera Performance by a Leading Actor. J. Robert is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Shenandoah University.