MNfusion chats with actor Hayden Milanes about the recent "Jersey Boys" tour


Oh, what a night!

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons have returned to the stage in Minneapolis as the tour of “Jersey Boys” makes a stop at the Orpheum Theater.

If you’re like me, your first introduction to the Four Seasons was through your parents (and KOOL 108). For many others, the band provided the soundtrack of their youth.

Whether it was the 60s, 70s or even the 90s, “Jersey Boys” gives audiences a chance to relive their childhood as it walks audiences down memory lane with a soundtrack made up of the band’s greatest hits.

But the show does more than just create nostalgia. It shares the story of the four men who rose to fame and fell from the spotlight.

The Four Seasons came to fame in the 1960s with a slew of hits like “Sherry,” “Walk Like A Man,” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” They were one of the few American bands that could hold spots on the charts during Beatlemania and, from the outside, they appeared to be unstoppable.

Hayden Milanes, who plays front man Frankie Valli, took a moment to talk with me about the show and how it feels to embody an icon.

So, c’mon Marianne put your red dress on and walk like a man down to Minneapolis to see “Jersey Boys.”

(credit: Jeremy Daniel)

(credit: Jeremy Daniel)

Obviously, older audience members can relate to the show because they remember when the band was popular and the release of these songs. But why do you think younger generations love the show so much?

With current TV shows like American Idol, The Voice, The Sing-Off and movies such as “Pitch Perfect,” the idea of becoming a rockstar or being a pop singer has never been more relevant. Today’s youth is saturated with dreamers who are looking for their big break. “Jersey Boys” gives a glimpse of what it takes to make a dream come true and I think our “hook” is leaving the younger generation inspired to go out there and make their own dreams come true. Whether it is to become a musician in a rock band or to become a doctor and save lives, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what it takes to become great – passion, sacrifice, courage and relentless tenacity. All traits these four guys shared in harmony.

Why do you think the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons has withstood the test of time where other musicians or bands have failed to do so?

“The music is timeless.”

I hear that just about every night at the stage door. There’s no doubt that this music is in fact ubiquitous. That’s a testament to the brilliance of Gaudio himself. The man knew how to write a melody. There’s a line in the show where Gaudio says “None of this could have happened … without me,” and I agree.

(credit: Joan Marcus)

(credit: Joan Marcus)

In many other shows actors play characters that aren’t real people and, as a result, get to create a character original to them. How does it differ when taking on a character that is based off of a real person? 

I went into this knowing there were specific notes to be sung and a specific look to be had in order to play “Frankie.” I’ve met Frankie briefly a couple of times, but I’ve never had the chance to sit and pick his brain or his heart. So what you are seeing on stage is my heart affected by Frankie’s circumstances. Of course there’s an immense amount of history involved with the script, so I’ve picked up a lot of who he is from video and print interviews he’s done as well.

(credit: Left photo - Joan Marcus Right photo - Vincent Riehl/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images))

(credit: Left photo – Joan Marcus Right photo – Vincent Riehl/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images))

What was the most challenging part about this show?

Letting go and learning to trust myself. This role is a beast, leaving me completely emotionally and vocally vulnerable. I’m doing splits and running up stairs like a football player in practice all the while singing STUPID high notes. Every. Night. It’s an emotional, physical and vocal workout with very little water intake. You have to be at the top of your game or there is no game. It’s a total blast to do this role, but I would be lying if I told you it wasn’t challenging to execute every night.

What is your favorite song and/or scene?

Currently my favorite moment is at the very end of “My Eyes Adored You.” There’s a moment of support from the other three guys that kind of lifts Frankie up from a fall. No words are spoken. You know they have my back through thick and thin. It’s a beautiful simple moment. Guess you’ll just have to see the show to know what I’m talking about!

How does it feel to take on such an iconic show?

FRIGGIN AWESOME!

“Jersey Boys” is playing now through May 3 at the Orpheum Theater. Tickets cost $33 – $179. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit the Hennepin Theatre Trust online.

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