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BWW Interview: Aaron DeJesus as Frankie Valli in THE JERSEY BOYS

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The JERSEY BOYS is the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons as they made their way to the top. Their music played on as their personal lives fell apart. While JERSEY BOYS continues to entertain audiences, Aaron DeJesus gave BWW a glimpse into his experiences in the business and taking on the role of Frankie Valli in the Second National Tour of the JERSEY BOYS.

Tell us a little more about yourself and how you got interested in performing.

My mom had us performing ever since we were little kids. She had us singing in church and school. I come from a musical family. When I was young, my mom kind of pushed us. She recognized talent in us and she pushed us to perform. And it wasn't until I was in junior high and high school that I realized that I enjoyed it. Then, when I got into college, I thought that I was done with it but then I found myself pursuing it again and fell back into it. I realized after being encouraged by some friends that it was something that I could do if I really wanted to. I love doing it and I guess I was good enough at it to continue doing it. So, I have and I've made it my focus.

And where did you go to college?

I went to two different colleges to study acting and musical theater. Utah Valley State College which is now Utah Valley University and I also went to BYU (Brigham Young University).

You have had a lot of opportunities to perform various roles over the years. What are some of your favorite ones?

I got to play Seymour in "Little Shop of Horrors." It's a great show and a fun role. I loved that. Playing Frankie is a dream come true. It's definitely one of the tops. It comes with a lot more responsibility and a lot more weight but it is one of my favorite roles that I've ever had.

So, what was your journey to getting the role of Frankie Valli in JERSEY BOYS?

I auditioned for the show for several years before I got in. But, my story is different than everybody else's. Some people go to their first audition for JERSEY BOYS and book it. For me, it took several years. But, during that time, I was doing other things and working on other shows. I eventually got into the show and I was in the Las Vegas company playing the role of Joe Pesci. Joe Pesci always understudies Frankie Valli. So, I was in Las Vegas playing Joe Pesci and understudying Frankie. I did that for about three and a half years before I came out on tour and took over the role of Frankie.

And tell us about the "Frankie Camp."

It's part of the audition process. What they'll do is once or twice a year they'll have what the call a "Frankie Camp." They bring in six or eight and maybe even ten guys that they're considering to play the role. It's in New York City. You spend three days there. You do a day of choreography, a day of singing and a day of acting. You spend one day with each of these supervisors of the show. You spend time with the dance supervisor, you spend time with the vocal coach and you spend time with one of the resident directors. They work with you and take notes and see how you're doing. From that, they make determinations whether or not you'll get to move on. I did that, but I did that in 2009. I didn't make it into the show until 2012. My story and process getting into the show is different. Everybody has a unique story.

What are some of the things you enjoy about being on tour?

You get to travel and see new cities. I'm really looking forward to San Antonio. I love Texas. San Antonio is one city that I haven't visited. I get to travel and see these great towns and meet so many great people and see how well received the show is and it's such a great show. I feel lucky to be a part of it and see how personal people are with the music. It's really great. It's a lot of fun. This is the kind of show that guys who don't like musicals can drag his wife or girlfriend to this because he likes it. It's a story about guys being guys and it's not sugar candy coated. It's not a typical frou-frou musical that people equate with musicals but it's a good show.

What advice do you have for anyone thinking about getting into show business?

I would say a couple of things. First of all, it's not at all easy to be in this business. It's a lot of fun. Here I am doing an interview with you. And we do television shows once a week. We are in front of thousands of people at a time and getting applause and praise. It is fun, but it does come at a cost. I have a wife and a daughter that are living in New York right now that I don't get to see very often. That's part of the cost of doing something like that. So, I always tell people that it's a very enjoyable, a very rewarding career but you have to know what you're getting into before you do it. I also say do as much as you can to get as much experience as you can. Take dance lessons and voice lessons and acting lessons. All of those things are helpful, but nothing is more helpful than actually getting up and doing it. So, even if that means doing productions at your local community theater or shooting a little film or videos you can throw up on YouTube with your friends, things like that. All of those kinds of things are going to give you experience and give you an opportunity to succeed and to fail and to learn what works and what doesn't. Do everything you can; do as much as you can with your craft. Being a musician, that's something you can do all of your life and for some people, doing this professionally takes a little bit of the joy and passion out of it because it's your job. So, you have to balance what it is you want out of life, what do want out of this art form? Is the constant rejection going to affect you? Sometimes you just can't know that until you actually do it. You have to weigh all those things and make a decision. It's tough. It's not easy.

JERSEY BOYS will play at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio from December 6-11, 2016. Tickets can be purchased at the Majestic Box Office or the Majestic Theatre's website.


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