Arts

Published: Friday March 21, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Friday March 21, 2014 MYT 8:29:03 AM

Becoming Frankie: Training for the Jersey Boys

Bust a move: The actors in 'Jersey Boys' have to be able to dance well, sing well and act well. This Frankie Camp was held in New York.

Bust a move: The actors in 'Jersey Boys' have to be able to dance well, sing well and act well. This Frankie Camp was held in New York.

The Frankie Camp prepares the Jersey Boys actors for their big role ahead.

THE award-winning Broadway musical Jersey Boys, which centres on the life and music of legendary US pop singer Frankie Valli and the group The Four Seasons, has some curious – long and short – requirements when it comes to auditioning the role for its lead character.

With some irony, we can say it’s a tall order for every Frankie Valli on stage. You see the real New Jersey-raised Valli wasn’t that high up in the height department, but his multi-octave range was clearly out of this world. For the stage musical, Jersey Boys actors who take on this role are all shorter than 175cm. Plus they must all be able to sing 25 songs – most in falsetto – and “dance expertly” throughout the evening. Malaysians can witness this musical first-hand when Jersey Boys plays at Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur next month.

“They need experience in musical theatre and to meet the required vocal strength to portray Frankie Valli,” says Jersey Boys company manager Jill Somers in an email interview.

Aside from the pre-requisite falsetto, “adequate triple threat skills” (singing, dancing and acting) are among the other things on the checklist. And even if the Frankie in question can do all these, there is another requirement: to be able to convincingly age 14 to 70 years without relying on the magic of make-up!

Expectations are high and there’s lots of work to be done before each show. So to help the actors hone their skills for the big role ahead, the Frankie Camp was created – now a staple for the Jersey Boys productions.

“The unique singing style of The Four Seasons, particular the role of Frankie Valli, as well as the accent and pronunciation of the ‘New Jersey’ dialect, is very specific. Frankie Camp has been developed for actors playing principal characters to receive tuition about their role, the character they play, and the movement and singing style of the Four Seasons,” adds Somers.

Frankie Camp strives to bring out the best in the actors playing principal characters in the well-loved Jersey Boys. The show plays at Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur next month.
Frankie Camp strives to bring out the best in the actors playing principal characters in the well-loved Jersey Boys. The show plays at Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur in April 2014.

The week-long camp is held in New York whenever a new production of Jersey Boys is set to open, and the performers work with the Jersey Boys New York vocal coach and music supervisor, as well as in extended sessions with a Jersey Boys associate director and associate choreographer.

In the upcoming Jersey Boys production to be staged in Kuala Lumpur, Grant Almirall plays Frankie, with Jaco van Rensburg as the alternate Frankie, and Daniel Buys as Tommy DeVito. When asked what made Almirall stand out when auditioning for the role, Somers states that it was his ability to sing comfortably in the same falsetto range as Frankie Valli.

She refers to Almirall as a “dedicated, caring, generous and above all, incredibly loyal person – a small man with a big heart, AND enormous voice!”

She adds, “Apart from his vocal, dancing and acting talents, and his obvious physical attributes, Grant’s stage presence, ability to make the role his own, and his passion to give his best performance at every show makes him worthy of playing the role of one of pop music’s greatest icons.”

Looks like this Frankie – and his band members – are all set to captivate audiences with their take on this real-life story!

Jersey Boys is set to run at Istana Budaya, Jalan Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur from April 15 to 27. Tickets are now available through all TicketCharge channels. Ticket prices range from RM200 to RM680. For more info, log on to www.ticketcharge.com.my. Hotline: 03-9222 8811. Show info: www.facebook.com/jerseyboys.malaysia. The show is organised by Milestone Production Sdn Bhd. The Star is the gold sponsor and Red FM the official radio station.

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment, jersey boys, frankie camp, frankie, grant almirall

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