An Interview with the Jersey Boys

Award-winning Musical, Jersey Boys Arrives In Singapore

By Jennifer Ariesta

Jersey Boys may have a damn good story to tell, but all of that would be futile without the attention to details that made the show a spectacle to behold. Campus Magazine chat with the cast and crew of Jersey Boys on the painstaking endeavour behind the award-winning musical.

The Singapore production of Jersey Boys, according to resident director Anton Luitingh, was keenly supervised by the Broadway creative team who took home 2006 Best Musical trophy at the Tony Awards – the musical scene’s equivalent to Oscars. Everything has got to meet that acclaimed standard. For example, the staggering amount of 536 costumes prepared to portray the show’s 1960s era. Get this, to put together that impressive number of intricate outfits, manufacturing took place across the globe – China, Scotland, and

Uruguay among others.

One of the most vital preparations was whisking off the South African-based cast to New York, the show’s headquarters. One of the two alternating actors for Frankie Valli’s role, Jaco Van Rensburg told us of his experience. In Broadway, they had learnt literally everything from singing  to dancing and right down to nifty details like where to stand and even which foot to use! Both Frankie actors also got to work on their materials with none other than Bob Gaudio, from the original quartet and composer of nearly all of the band’s hits. With this session, Bob was able to direct these talented thespians the way he had wanted the real Frankie Valli to sing it. That’s about as close to authentic as humanly possible if you ask me.

The heart of the story is set in New Jersey, but how do you transform a cast that lives so far off from Jersey and make them believably one? You take them to the place itself. Yes, the cast went to the famous shore to  immerse themselves into Frankie and co’s world. Their work didn’t stop there, of course. Every single day, the cast in Johannesburg goes through vocal and accent lessons, via Skype. The reason? Accent guru Steven Gavis and vocal couch Katie Agresta (whose clients includes Jon Bon Jovi, no less) are both New York-bound. These people were handpicked to ensure the cast were able to perform with great precision, eight times a week.

With such rigid confinement in playing a beloved role, can the actors infuse their own creativity, then? “Everybody knows the icon, the song. But you need to be truthful and honest in singing it because every song is a whole story in itself,” says Jaco. Eloquently said.

With that, expect to see a Broadway caliber spectacle right here on this little red dot.

Jersey Boys is now showing at Sands Theater at the Marina Bay Sands.