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BWW Interviews: Matthew Dailey of JERSEY BOYS National Tour

Working Its Way Back to the Durham Performing Arts Center from April 7th-12th is the national touring production of the long-running Tony and Grammy Award-Winning smash, Jersey Boys featuring Matthew Dailey as Tommy DeVito, a role originated on Broadway by Tony Award-Winner Christian Hoff.

Originally from Denver, CO Matthew has performed professionally from the age of 9. Most recently, Matthew traveled Spain, Italy and France in Saturday Night Fever - The Musical. Favorite performances include Cats (Rum Tum Tugger), 7 Brides...Brothers (Daniel/Frank), A Chorus Line (Mike), 1940's Radio Hour (BJ Gibson), Cinderella (Prince), and Viva Vegas (Elvis).

JK: To start things off, as the show will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary on Broadway this November, what was your first exposure to Jersey Boys?

MD: I first saw Jersey Boys in 2007 when the first national tour came to Denver, Colorado when I was a junior in high school. Since then I've also seen the Las Vegas company, and the Broadway production, so I've pretty much seen all the North American companies at this point.

JK: So how did the opportunity for you to audition for Jersey Boys come by?

MD: I went to a dance call for it about a year ago. I was working on a cruise ship in Europe when I got the phone call. I then flew to New York for 36 hours, I did the final callback, met the director, and flew back to Europe. It was that quick in and out.

JK: When did you find out that you were cast?

MD: When I landed in Europe, just by the time the plane landed.

JK: Speaking of Europe, having read that you recently got to tour all over Europe doing Saturday Night Fever, I'd like to know what that experience was like?

MD: It was a blast! Traveling to pretty much a new country every day. We got to visit Rome, Barcelona, Naples, getting to climb Mount Vesuvius, we got to do some pretty cool things.

JK: Since your character is of Italian descent, how was it being in Italy?

MD: Of course! It was great being in Italy. Tommy is of Italian descent, but it's very different since he's American. Italian in Italy vs. Italian in America is a very different culture. But it was very cool to experience it first hand.

JK: Let's talk about your director, Des McAnuff, who is currently getting ready to open Doctor Zhivago on Broadway. What is he like to work with?

MD: I didn't get too much exposure with him. At this point, they try to have associates that handle most of the hands on work in order of maintaining Des' vision and the integrity of the show. I only really got to deal with him in my final callback. But it was great, Des had a lot of great things to say, he gave me things to think about, he was very cool.

JK: What have you been enjoying most about traveling around the country doing Jersey Boys?

MD: Other than doing the show, which is a blast to do day-in and day-out. I love traveling around, getting to see every part of the country that may not otherwise get to visit. Just last week, we played in Austin, Texas. It was a blast, the culture was great, the food was incredible, the music team was awesome, it was all great. So traveling around getting to experience parts of the country that you might not otherwise get to see.

JK: How do you keep up with performing eight times a week?

MD: You have to get a lot of rest, hydrate lots of water, not too many late nights, stay active, and just take care of my body.

JK: Prior to joining the show, how familiar were you with The Four Seasons?

MD: More familiar than I thought. The first time I saw the show, I didn't know much about them. I knew the song Sherry and I knew Oh, What a Night and some of the bigger ones, but there's a lot of other songs I obviously knew, I just didn't know that they were by The Four Seasons. I think that's kind of the consensus through most of those who see the show every night where at times they'd go 'I didn't know they sang this, and I didn't know they sang that too, wow, they sang a lot'. There's a whole page in the program dedicated to the songs that didn't even make it into the show, there were so many songs that they did.

JK: What would you say is your favorite Four Seasons song that's in the show, and favorite song that's not in the show?

MD: I don't know about ones that aren't in the show, but as far as ones that are in the show to perform is probably Dawn (Go Away) at the end of Act One because at that point in the show, the guys are just rock star at the height of their careers and a lot of the downfalls of the group hasn't happened to them yet. It was really the peak of their time, so that's my favorite.

JK: So many actors have played Tommy DeVito over the years from Christian Hoff, Glenn Carter, Andy Karl, Richard H. Blake, Vincent Piazza, etc. How would you describe your take on the character?

MD: I don't know. I saw Andy Karl do it several years ago, and I loved it. I think every Tommy is a little different. I think mine is fairly aggressive, I think of him as kind of like Pitbull. He's just this little sassy guy, but with a lot of heads-up.

JK: Of course, ever since Jersey Boys became the success that it is, we've had several onstage bio-musicals on Broadway from Fela!, Million Dollar Quartet, Baby It's You, Motown, most recently Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and Gloria & Emilio Estefan's On Your Feet coming in the fall. What is it about musician's that you think make for a good bio-musical?

MD: I think specifically with Jersey Boys, if you take away all the songs, the story is still incredible. The book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice is so well-done. It's your rags-to-riches tale about these guys from the wrong side of the tracks with mob debts. They really worked their way out of the gutter and made it to the ultimate pinnacle which is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For a Rock n' Roll musician especially at that time that was it, you made it! So if you take away the music and all you have is the story, it's an incredible story. At the same time, if you take away the story and all you have is the music, it's incredible music. That's why the legacy of the Four Seasons had lasted the past 50-plus years. So I think you get the best of both worlds and get to put them together.

JK: Are there any dream roles you'd love to pursue in the future?

MD: Tommy was always one of them. At some point I'd love to play Riff in West Side Story, which needs to happen quick because I am rapidly aging out. I'd also love to do Rocky, I got to see Andy Karl do that and loved it. If that show ever gets remounted someday, I'd love to take a crack at that.

JK: Is there any advice you would like to give any aspiring young performers out there?

MD: I'd say be persistent, you'll hear 'No' a lot. It's real easy to get bogged down by that. Just don't let anybody tell you that you can't nor you shouldn't. To me, it's the most fulfilling thing I could imagine myself doing artistically. Don't let anybody tell you that you can't, it's just a matter of when and how.

JK: Matt, I thank you very much for devoting your time to this interview, and I wish you the best of luck with Jersey Boys!

MD: Absolutely! Thank you so much, we'll see you next week in Durham!

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