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BWW Interviews: JERSEY BOYS' Keith Hines Talks Getting the Role of Nick Massi

BWW Interviews: JERSEY BOYS' Keith Hines Talks Getting the Role of Nick Massi

JERSEY BOYS is an entertaining show that chronicles the lives of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and the ups and downs they endured in their careers. As the touring production travels around North America, actor Keith Hines, who plays Nick Massi, enjoys every minute of the tour and the opportunities he has had in his life. Broadway World caught up with Hines as they prepare for their visit to Austin, Texas.

Tell us about growing up with so many siblings and is that how you got interested in performing in the first place?

Well, it is kinda a weird thing how I got into performing because no one else in my family does it. I just, I grew up in a football state, you know, Oklahoma and everyone was big into athletics and I just wasn't so at a very early age I can remember digging around for my niche, what it is that I felt like I wanted to do and I stumbled onto singing and it was just kinda the only thing that I was good at and passionate about. I just kept going and it evolved from competitive singing to choir to musical theater and then college was musical theater and it just kept snowballing and I just never wanted to do anything else. I moved to New York after college and the rest is history. But my family had really little to do with my career choice. On the same note, they could not be more supportive. They couldn't be better. In Ft. Myers, seven of my brothers and sisters and my mom and my dad are all coming to Ft. Myers. Yeah, they couldn't be more supportive.

What are some of the stand out roles you have done over the years?

My favorite roles have been Lancelot in Camelot; that was a special one. I can remember wearing the armor and picking up my broadsword, cuz I am a big fantasy nerd and that really tickled that fantasy itch. Enjolras from Les Mis. Les Mis is one of those iconic shows that I dreamt of doing since I started. One more I like is Thomas Jefferson from 1776. That one was special.

I noticed that you are kinda new to the Jersey Boys scene, so tell us about how you got involved with Jersey Boys.

I am a little newer. I got a phone call from my agent and I had an audition for me to go into Jersey Boys. When I first got to New York City in 2009, my ex- manager, who is still a very dear friend, said this was a show that you could be in. Go and see it and I went and saw it and I remember thinking that this was one of those special pieces of theater that I would like to get involved with. I was a little green still, I went back to acting school in New York and time kinda passed and I'd forgotten about it. Five years later, this pops up and it all just kinda worked. The material, I identified strongly with. Blue collar guys, trying to make it work, make their passion work and it was a lot of fun to bring the material to life. I guess they liked what I brought to the table because here I am five months later.

How did you get the role of Nick Massi?

The first time I went in, I went in for Merry Sugarman and I sang out of my book and did a few scenes. She kinda worked with me a bit, we picked another song to sing and I went in for another round about a week later and then I guess there was a third round that was a dance call. The choreography in Jersey Boys is one of the most difficult pieces of the puzzle. I knew that after that dance call it was game over for me. I had been cut. One of my weaknesses as a musical theater performer is picking up choreography and I just could quite get it. But our associate chorographer saw something that caught his eye through the fumbling bumbling of dance steps, he saw potential. That night at midnight, called Merry Sugarman, and said we need to bring Keith back in tomorrow and work with him individually. So, my family happened to be in New York and I had my little brother with me, we were in the movie theater and I got an email from my agent saying they want you to come back in today at 3. I looked over at my brother and told him and he said "are you ready?" and he is just an eight year old boy. I said, "Not really." We were in a movie he had wanted to see for months and he looked at the movie screen and he looked back at me and he said, "Well we've got to go so you can practice." I'll never forget it in my life. I didn't expect him at all to have that selflessness but it was beautiful. So we went back to the apartment and we reviewed and I took him to the audition and he met everybody at the audition. It was funny, in the lobby, Danny Austin, the associate choreographer that I was talking about earlier, rounded the corner and he said, "Is that yours?" I said, "No, that's my little brother." He thought that was my son, and we started talking and I mentioned that Carter was sitting with me while I was rehearsing and Danny looked at Carter and said, "How is he?" and Carter, not having any idea who this was he was speaking to, kinda looked at him and shrugged his shoulders and said "Eh, he can do better." It was such an endearing moment, Danny got to see into my family and it warmed up the room. So he left and said he was going to give me his stamp of approval after that audition. The next round was seeing Des McAnuff and The Dodgers, it was just kinda one of those do or die moments and I, as an actor have become someone conditioned to not putting too much importance on auditions, but this one, after having been in four rounds of auditions already, there was a little bit of pressure. I just went in and did my work to the best of my ability and kept my fingers crossed and I heard something later that day. It was one of those big, long audition journeys that it's just part of the gig we do and I couldn't be happier that it worked out the way that it did.

Are there any characteristics of Nick Massi that you relate to specifically?

He is an interesting guy. I definitely relate to his passion to music. That is what he lived for. They always say there is very little to know about Nick Massi, but from what people do say, he was his happiest when he was performing or writing. Everything in between, he was an alcoholic and a womanizer so that aspect of his life, the self-medication part, I don't so much identify with but I most certainly identify with his musical side.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Good question. I am at an interesting part in my life. I am 29 years old. I am split there, after this tour, I am debating on going to LA and doing the TV and film thing. I really want to give that a shot. I don't think there is a whole lot of time. To be completely honest, I have no idea where I will be in five years. I am really big on letting go and letting God and trusting that whatever happens is supposed to happen. We will see but in a perfect world, I would like to be starring in movies or maybe starring in my own TV show and starting a family.

JERSEY BOYS comes to Austin, Texas at the Bass Concert Hall from March 24-29, 2015. Go to their website for tickets and show times.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy Daniel

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