Like many bands that have been around for several decades, the Four Seasons has seen its fair share of line-up changes.
But its original four members — Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi — built the band, and defined its style and sound. It’s the story of these four unlikely music superstars from New Jersey that’s celebrated in Jersey Boys, the Broadway hit musical returning to Australia in September next year, after an extensive tour from 2009 to 2012.
The four leading men for the upcoming tour were announced this morning: Bernard Angel as Frankie, Cameron MacDonald as Tommy, Glaston Toft as Nick, and Thomas McGuane as Bob.
While three of the cast members are veterans of the show — Toft played Nick throughout the original Australian tour, and Angel and MacDonald both understudied their roles at different points — McGuane is a total newcomer, currently in his graduating year of musical theatre at the Victorian College for the Arts. He’ll make his professional debut in the show.
“This kind of opportunity comes along very rarely, so it’s incredibly exciting,” he says. “The opportunity to delve into a world alongside a great cast who have already set their foot in this work, it feels like I’m in good hands.”
It’s actually rather appropriate that McGuane is joining the show for a return season, considering that the Bob Gaudio was the final member of the Four Seasons to join the line-up.
“If anything, I’m bringing absolute truth to this role by jumping on the bandwagon halfway through,” McGuane says.
But the dynamic between the other three actors on stage will be entirely unique, because although they’ve worked on the show together before, they’ve never played these roles together in any performance.
Fronting the band as Frankie Valli is Bernard Angel, who played Joe Pesci in the original Australian tour and understudied and performed the role of Frankie. Although it’s now been five years since he’s been in the show, he says the character of Frankie, particularly his tenacity, has stuck with him ever since those performances.
“I still like the fact that the original Four Seasons were working at making music for so long before they finally made it and it hit,” he says. “Even when I see it now, I still think about how those guys just kept at it. As actors, it’s quite similar: we’re just constantly auditioning.”
Cameron MacDonald, who will play Tommy, came to the original Australian tour as a self-confessed “fan-boy”, joining halfway through.
“I came to see the show at the family and friends run in Melbourne and was just on the edge of my seat the entire night,” he says. “It’s such a brilliantly directed and slick piece of theatre with an incredible score.”
Glaston Toft is particularly comfortable in returning to the role of Nick, who he’s played for more than 1300 performances across Australia and New Zealand. He says his understanding of the role has evolved significantly since he first stepped into Nick’s shoes eight years ago.
“There’s a moment in the show when Nick talks about his kids and how he didn’t want to feel like an absent father, so he arranged for his kids to think he was their uncle,” Toft says. “It’s completely backward, and I’ve always thought that. But after I had kids, my reading of those lines was very different in my head.”
Although Jersey Boys is known as one of the tightest-drilled and slicked pieces of musical theatre to emerge in recent decades, Toft says he’s excited to see how the last five years of his life will affect his approach to his character.
“No doubt the passage of time changes you as a person, and you do bring something different whether or not it looks any different out on stage.”
Featured image by Brian Geach: L-R Cameron MacDonald, Bernard Angel, Thomas McGuane, Glaston Toft