Before The Midtown Men, Tony® Award-winner Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard, and Tony® Award nominee J. Robert Spencer were the original stars of the Broadway phenomenon “Jersey Boys.” With over 1,000 performances on stage together, this dynamic foursome has since expanded their repertoire to cover not only Frankie Valli, but all the greats from the 60s, as well. In a rare, special engagement, The Midtown Men will be shedding their regular seven piece band in favor of the 60 piece orchestral backing of the renowned Philly POPS! Under the sublime direction of conductor Michael Krajewski, the two entertainment powerhouses will unite to bring you a one of a kind, truly unforgettable show called “Sixties Hits” on May 16, 17, and 18 at Verizon Hall in The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, PA.
Examiner recently talked with Christian Hoff about The Midtown Men’s upcoming performances with The Philly POPS. [Note: The companion piece for this interview in which Christian talks about how the Jersey Boys became The Midtown Men is hosted over at AXS.com.]
Examiner: When you come to The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, instead of your regular seven piece band, you are going to be playing with The Philly POPS! That’s pretty exciting!
Christian: It is! We are looking forward to it! This has been on the calendar for a long, long time. Philadelphia was just a real solid anchor early on when The Midtown Men were just beginning our venture into the symphonic world.
Examiner: Does this show contain The Midtown Men’s full repertoire? What can patrons expect?
Christian: What we decided to do with the symphonic shows was take our favorite songs from our set lists over the years and orchestrate them in symphonic fashion. The current show consists of about 60-70 minutes of our favorites.
Examiner: What kind of musical treats will be included in this show?
Christian: Well, when we were considering music for this show, we were really thinking about songs that we could orchestrate that would stretch some limits. For instance, from Ike and Tina Turner, we orchestrated “River Deep, Mountain High,” which was a Phil Spector song. It wasn’t necessarily a huge success for Tina Turner, but we loved the way that Phil orchestrated it with his Wall of Sound, so we said, “Why don’t we pay homage to that and do an actual wall of sound with an 85 piece orchestra?!” Another way we stretched the limits was when we did The Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love” — which is one of our favorite songs that we perform — we added horns. Rarely does a band do a Beatles’ arrangement with horns. We’ll also be doing songs from The Mamas & The Papas, The Turtles, The Association, and, of course, The Four Seasons. We do a Motown medley which is just really, really fun to hear, it’s a big, big orchestrated funky groove that is unique and wonderful!
Examiner: What is the difference between The Midtown Men and an average 60's music cover band?
Christian: The hook is we’re singing the great songs of the 60s, and that is what gets people in the seats, but we’re bringing something more to it. We’re bringing a fresh take on this classic music. We’re bringing a life to it in a way that isn’t just nostalgia or a tribute. We understand the music and the roots in a way that I don’t think a cover band really can because we are also all actors and we love the dramaturgy of this, too! You need the live band, you need the orchestra, and you need these lyrics to come to life in a new way, right in front of your very eyes. That’s the beauty of live theater, live performance, and, in this case, live music. I think that aspect is what brings people to their feet as much as hearing their favorite songs.
Examiner: Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?
Christian: When we first set out to do this orchestrated version of our show, we knew The Philly POPS would be a milestone in our career. Philadelphia is just such a great music town! Also, as artists, one of the guys, Michael Longoria, worked quite a bit in Philadelphia, and our horn section is comprised of all Philly horns! So, we’ve come full circle. To be able to perform with The Philly POPS is a great mark of success. We look forward to celebrating that success with The Philly POPS this weekend. It’s going to be a celebration of Philly and music of the 60s all wrapped up in one!
The Philly POPS is presented by Encore Series, Inc. “Sixties Hits” will run at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 16, then at 3 p.m. matinees for Saturday, May 17 and Sunday, May 18. Tickets for The Philly POPS concerts may be purchased through www.phillypops.org, by phone at 215-893-1999, or at The Kimmel Center box office.