One of the (Jersey) Boys


“In those days, there were three ways to get out of that neighborhood: you could join the army, you could join the mob, or you could become a star.” – Nicolas Dromard

 

Dromard (right) with fellow Four Seasons castmates (L to R) Brandon Andrus, Nick Cosgrove, and Jason Kappus

Dromard (right) with fellow Four Seasons castmates (L to R) Brandon Andrus, Nick Cosgrove, and Jason Kappus

By Lauren Lockhart

Photos by Jeremy Daniel

 

In the 1960’s, four guys from the rough neighborhoods of New Jersey had one dream: to reach international stardom. The intimate portrayal of the now legendary Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ rise to fame in the musical Jersey Boys has attained its own celebrity status since its Broadway debut in 2005—it notably won the 2006 Tony for “Best Musical,” among other accolades. The touring production is now giving audiences nationwide the opportunity to get a glimpse at the true story of these boys from Jersey. The tour stops in Birmingham just in time to close Broadway in Birmingham’s 2012–13 season, and tickets are dwindling fast for the production’s Sept. 10–15 performances at the BJCC. Amidst frequent rehearsals (not to mention a tour stop in Fayetteville, Ark., before arriving in the ‘ham), cast member Nicolas Dromard, who plays Four Seasons bad-boy Tommy DeVito, took some time to chat with us here at B-Metro about his experience with Jersey Boys.

“It’s an actor’s dream role to be in this musical,” says Dromard, who had his sights set on performing in Jersey Boys for several years. “You know, every show I’ve done in the last few years has been special to me,” says the actor, who has performed key roles in Wicked and Mamma Mia! and played Bert in the Broadway production of Mary Poppins. “But this show is just like a culmination of all this hard work I’ve put in. To be on this tour and [have] this amazing cast… it’s just so magical.”

A lot of hard work has to go in behind the scenes to make that magic seem effortless on stage. Not only does each of the four lead actors have to authentically represent his respective member of the Four Seasons, but the quartet must achieve that all-important group chemistry when they perform. Dromard explains that he and his three co-stars—Brandon Andrus, Nick Cosgrove, and Jason Kappus—rehearsed together to develop “the flavor of the Four Seasons.” And what about sharing the stage with three other talented forces?

“That’s the fun part!” laughs Dromard. “We just created our own little rock band.”

The cast performs "Cry for Me" Photo by Jeremy Daniel

The cast performs “Cry for Me”

The musical took inspiration from the band in more ways than one. The show follows a storyline transpiring across four seasons, with each band member narrating his respective season. Says Dromard, “The whole experience is just so unique and makes the story that much more interesting, because you get to hear from every guy in the group.” So, one member might tell a story one way, and in the next act, another member might have a completely different spin on the same story.

The show boasts a unique narrative, but you can’t help but wonder how the retro rock music of the Four Seasons merges fluently with the theatrics of a Broadway production.

“People say it’s a musical, but it’s really not—it’s more like a play with music,” Dromard explains. “The way the show is written, the band performs in a concert setting. There’s only one song that’s theatrical like a musical. So, every other song in the show is as if you are witnessing [the band] either recording for the first time or performing on stage at a rock concert.”

The show’s focus on preserving the authenticity of the Four Seasons’ music has drawn lifelong fans of the band and  has created new ones out of younger audience members.

“That’s what’s great,” expresses Dromard. “We get a lot of people that come to the show who grew up with this music. So you’ll have, you know, the older generation […] and then you’ll have younger people who were introduced to it by a lot of songs that were remade.”

One of those songs includes “Beggin’,” which was recently repopularized through a cover by the group Madcon in 2007. The crowd-pleasing performance of this song segues into Dromard’s favorite scene in the musical.

“I love the song to begin with,” he says. “It’s right before this incredibly tense moment in Act II where the band is confronted with the loan shark.” Dromard explains that the loan shark has abruptly entered the band’s nightclub performance to threaten Tommy DeVito about his teeming debt.

“We’re putting on this show at this club, and then he furiously walks in, and it becomes this sit-down scene in the middle of the musical. All you see is this incredibly tense fight, and it’s amazing.”

Dromard (R) in the tense sit-down scene in Act II, his favorite scene to perform in the musical.

Dromard chuckles as he describes this scene as a “moment of complete douchebaggery” for his character of Tommy, the resident troublemaker of the Four Seasons.

“It’s fun to play the bad guy. Everyone wants to be the bad guy,” says Dromard.

While Tommy finds himself in his fair share of trouble, what Jersey Boys reveals—and what many fans didn’t realize at the time—is that all members of the Four Seasons contended with crime, broken relationships, and the mob. Beneath the façade of a young, clean-cut rock group were four troubled guys just trying to make it.

Dromard says, “In those days, there were three ways to get out of that neighborhood: you could join the army, you could join the mob, or you could become a star.”

And stars they became, though amongst much turmoil.

“You’d think it’s just a made-up story… because it’s so fantastical,” says Dromard about the true story of the Four Seasons’ rise to fame and the effect it has on audiences.

“It’s all that put together—the great story, the amazing music, the unbelievable story of rags to riches… all that just connects with people and makes them come back to the show over and over again.”

Pairing the hit songs of the Four Seasons against an authentic storyline makes for a theatrical production like no other. When you watch the musical, you don’t see a plot being interrupted by dramatic musical numbers. Rather, you’re immersed in the smooth synergy between acting and music, with each song completing a piece of the puzzle of the history of the Four Seasons. And when the real story includes a dose of drama and entanglements with the mob, superfluous theatrics aren’t needed.

“It’s a show husbands drag their wives to because it’s such a great musical,” Dromard says. “[For] a lot of shows, it’s wives dragging their husbands to the show, but this is a guys’ musical.”

The Grand Finale

The Grand Finale

So what is the one reason Dromard say you should come see Jersey Boys later this month?

“One reason?” ponders Dromard, before turning on his best Jersey accent. “Because Tommy DeVito delivers! That’s why!”

No matter the reason you’re drawn to see Jersey Boys—be it the classic music, the stellar reviews or Nic’s acting chops—this musical leaves a lasting impression on everyone, offering audiences a piece of rock ’n roll history illuminated in the most vivid way possible.

 

 

Jersey Boys will be performed at the BJCC Concert Hall from September Sept. 10–15. Tickets can be purchased via Ticketmaster.

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