Oct. 02--Having the chance to tour in the huge Broadway hit "Jersey Boys" has brought the singer-actor Brandon Andrus full circle.
As a youngster growing up in the Philadelphia area, the first professional show Andrus saw was the rock musical "Tommy," directed by Des McAnuff, who would go on to stage the long-running Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons show that is bringing Andrus to the Palace Theater in Waterbury.
"Des has told us that when we're tired to always remember that at each performance there could be that one person who will be inspired by the show. I was that one person at 'Tommy,' " Andrus said after a promotional event in Waterbury several weeks ago.
The actor said it was especially thrilling for him to be able to launch the tour in 2011 in Philadelphia, where so many of his friends and family members could see him living out his dream.
"I have done the show close to 600 times by this point, but I think that is still the standard I gauge all houses by," he said of the opening night crowd in his hometown.
Andrus has been on the road in "Jersey Boys" for almost two years and is contracted through the show's return engagment in Philadelphia in December.
"That might be the place to close out. It's certainly not a reflection on the show. But I miss my wife and I don't want to be forgotten (in New York)," he said of the road tour.
The actor plays Nick Massi, who was the bass singer and bass guitarist when The Four Lovers transformed into The Four Seasons in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was Massi who created the vocal arrangements for such hits as "Sherry" and "Dawn (Go Away)."
The singer-musician was also the first of the original band to quit the group. Massi died in 2000.
On the road with "Jersey Boys," Andrus has learned the truth of the touring actor's maxim that every audience is different and there are still new things to learn about a character that you have played hundreds of times.
"I do find something new every night. What I'm doing now is not what I did in Philly," he said of the first tour stop. "Then I wasn't so confident."
Like many reviewers, Andrus believes the key to the great success of "Jersey Boys" lies in the strong biographical book that Oscar-winner Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice wrote about the creation of The Four Seasons and the challenges that the singing group faced over many years, including the huge changes in popular music from the 1960s to the 1970s.
Several Broadway shows about various pop music figures -- from Bob Dylan to The Beach Boys -- have opened and closed since the debut of "Jersey Boys" in 2005.
"It is the book," Andrus said of the major element that separates his show from other so-called "jukebox musicals."
"The real priority for me is the acting. This show is like 'The Godfather' of musicals. It's a show that men drag their wives to," he said.
"You take these four guys who have no reason to be successful, but they never stop trying."
Unlike other musicals that climax with a big musical number, "Jersey Boys" comes to a head in a long dialogue scene.
"It's really unheard of. The idea that we're just gonna take the main characters and have them talk for 12 or 15 minutes," the actor said of the juiciest book scene in the musical.
Andrus feels lucky to have stepped into a show after it was already established as a smash hit on Broadway.
"I'm up there taking credit for other people's work. I'm just a monkey in a suit," he said, laughing. "When you're in something this good it makes your job so much easier. It's really difficult to screw it up."
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The Palace Theater, 100 E. Main St., Waterbury. Wednesday, Oct. 9-Sunday, Oct. 13, 7:30 p.m. $78-$55. 203-346-2000, www.palacetheaterct.org.
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