“Jersey Boys” was a huge hit upon its opening on Broadway in 2005. The cast members who played the Four Seasons in the original production figured there was no reason to let the ’60s party end, so they formed the Midtown Men, a group that sings hits from the era.
“We were underdogs,” says Christian Hoff, who played Tommy DeVito in the show. “Four stars from a Broadway show don’t leave and form a full-time group. This was risky.”
Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer round out the group, which launched in 2007.
“We had to leave other careers to do this,” Hoff continues. “We passed on TV, film and Broadway offers to do this. This isn’t a one-off; it’s a full-fledged band.”
Like a real singing group, there was an album, 2011’s “Sixties Hits,” which added tunes by the Beatles, the Turtles and Marvin Gaye to the group’s “Jersey Boys” repertoire. From the Broadway show, they inherited such favorites as “Let’s Hang On,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Sherry.”
Also like a real band, the guys are are trying to figure out their place in the musical landscape. Hoff acknowledge there may not be a unified concept of what the Midtown Men is about.
“We are four individuals with four perspectives, and with that comes a lot of collaboration and a lot of struggle for vision about where we are going,” he says. “We were brought together randomly. It wasn’t like we were all singing together under a streetlamp. But with that background comes a great artistic and creative tension that translates to energy and excitement on the stage.”
But what does the future hold for the Midtown Men? Hoff thinks it’s full of potential.
“I’m excited about opportunities (ranging) from recording with some of the ’60s great icons or collaborating with ’60s writers on original material,” he says. “I think our chemistry and sound has more worlds to conquer. Instead of just singing ’60s music, our sound translates and transcends the genre. It’s not a tribute act. It’s not an oldies show.”
The four members all jointly own the Midtown Men brand, so collaboration and compromise are among the keys to key to survival.
“You learn how to finesse,” Hoff says. “You learn how to lose battles sometimes for the greater good. You can’t always be right and you can’t always get your way. You really need to learn to give and take. We’re four individuals but we’re on the same path.”
Still, you figure Hoff has a trump card. After all, he is the only member of the group to win a Tony Award for “Jersey Boys.” You’d think the trophy would add a little weight to his presence.
“I wear the Tony around my neck, like Flavor Flav,” Hoff jokes. “It’s very distracting for the people around me.”