“To be out there every night as a 23-year-old who just graduated from college and suddenly is working on this scale — it’s a very personal experience to be on stage every night telling his story,” says Miles Jacoby. He plays vocalist and songwriter Bob Gaudio, the youngest member of the Four Seasons, in the Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical “Jersey Boys,” which opens Wednesday, Jan. 9 and runs through Jan. 20, at the Murat Theatre at the Old National Centre in downtown Indianapolis. The production is a presentation of Broadway in Indianapolis.
A Wellesley, Mass. native, Jacoby is a graduate of Yale University, from which he received a B.A. in Theatre Studies in 2011. Moving to New York after graduation, he gathered credits which included the Drama Desk Nominated New York Premiere of “These Seven Sicknesses” (Hyllus) at The Flea Theater; “Woyzeck” (Drum Major); and “True Love” (Edward). Then a few weeks before his one-year anniversary in New York, he was cast as Gaudio in the national tour of “Jersey Boys,” which tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, one of the most successful rock groups of the 1960s.
Recently, Examiner.com spoke by phone with Jacoby, who was in Detroit, where the show was playing prior to its Indianapolis engagement.
Tell me about your character, Bob Gaudio. How do you like playing him?
I feel like I get to be myself every night on stage to some extent. Bob was this young one-hit wonder who wrote “Short Shorts” with a group of friends when he was 15. When he was 17 he met these tough guys from Jersey and started writing with them, and before he knew it they were writing huge hits like “Sherry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” etc. Here was this brilliant mind — this high school dropout who knew the music business, and had toured with Motown artists and other incredible influences — and he knew how to write an incredible song. He was also just a very smart guy who was driven professionally and knew what he wanted. Experiencing my own success at an early age, I identify strongly with him and am thankful I get to walk in his shoes every night. Bob is such an incredible person and continues to be this huge producer who has created some incredible music. He’s still very connected with Frankie, and it’s really one of the most amazing partnerships of all time.
Have you met him?
Yes, I worked with him in New York for about an hour and a half. I got to meet with him in the studio and sing through my two solos: “Cry for Me” and “Oh, What a Night.” He gave me some pointers and worked on the music with me. One of the things he gave me that stayed with me was he said, “That sounds great,” but then when we moved on to the character stuff, he said, “Sing it from the inside out, instead of the outside in.” I had to remember, “It’s a song you (Gaudio) wrote and it’s inside of you. You are telling it and you get to express it for these other guys,” so it is a little bit more in the music, and it stayed with me. He wrote all these songs, and it was his creation. The pride that comes with your own music and your own creation is something that is very special.
I was also able to pick up his aura and see what he was like. He’s a low-key guy. He’s very kind, simple and soft spoken, and he takes his time. He is also very direct. The writing in the play very much reflects who he is. He’s very involved in the show and in the casting process, especially any actor playing him.
How many cities have you visited on the tour?
I’ve been to three in Canada and also Spokane, Madison and Detroit. Indianapolis will be the seventh city.
Has life on the road been pretty much what you thought it would be or not?
Actually, I was kind of nervous coming in because I didn’t know what to expect — and being away from my family and friends for so long. Also, I was just getting settled into life in New York. But, it has turned out to be this really incredible experience. Not only do I get to visit all these places in the country and in Canada that I would otherwise not have seen, but the aspect of seeing the country and being able to tell the story to different people is really thrilling. My character talks about it in the show, and we (the actors) often comment on how we are playing four guys in a band playing the country, and we are actually four guys in a band playing the country.
My character also talks in the show about how you have your real family and your road family, and I think that aspect of family in our cast is also something I didn’t expect. It’s more than just a sit-down company or one you are rehearsing with, which is usually a close-knit community. When you are traveling together and you’re living together, it really becomes your whole world. So, the friendships and the bond that I’ve been able to develop in a very short amount of time is something special.
What is the demographic for your audiences?
It’s kind of cool. I think it’s one of those shows that brings together a lot of different people who come to the show for very different reasons. You have people who grew up with the music, and for them it is really a nostalgic experience. They get to revisit their youth and see these guys on stage again, and it’s a very moving experience for them. They also come with their kids, who learn about this music and a band who achieved so many firsts in the music business. On top of that, everyone who comes to the show ends up being unified by the incredible story we get to tell and end up falling in love with these guys.
Do the lyrics of these songs resonate with young people?
Even though it was a simpler time, these guys were writing for a very blue collar audience. They were writing for the “everyman.” Like in “Dawn,” they sing about being lower class and telling a girl to go away because her parents would disapprove. It’s a really raw and honest sentiment. In its day, the Four Seasons’ music was pretty ahead of its time. A good song is a good song. I think if people are tapping their toes and get a melody stuck in their minds, then that’s a sign that a song is well written.
Do you meet your fans afterwards?
A little bit. They come to the stage door. You get to talk to these people after they see the show and you can see in their eyes and hear in their voices how moved they are. They say, “Oh, my God! I grew up with these guys. This is my youth. This is my generation.” They feel like they have this new life breathed into them and they become 16 again. It’s a really cool experience. People are transported by the show and feel like these guys are alive for them, and they sort of forget that it is just a play.
What can you tell those who know nothing about “Jersey Boys”?
It’s just these four blue collar guys from Jersey who are trying to climb out of a really rough neighborhood where many were in and out of prison and involved with the mob, and where the only way they could get out was to join the Army, join the mob or become a star. So, the way the Four Seasons climbed out of the neighborhood was to write incredible music. Whether you know their story or not, you get to follow this amazing rags-to-riches story of four guys who dream big and score accomplishments beyond their wildest dreams. Of course, you also get to witness the trials and tribulations that come with that kind of success. I think it’s an “everyman” story, and no matter who you are and what kind of music you listen to, you are going to relate to the story and it will grab you.
Tickets for “Jersey Boys” are available at www.TicketMaster.com and www.BroadwayinIndianapolis.com, in person at the Broadway Across America Box Office (downtown at 342 Massachusetts Avenue), Clowes Memorial Hall, The Old National Centre Ticket Office, or by phone at 1-800-982-2787.