Broadway musicals aren't bands. Onstage, the performers are together for months, maybe years, to put on a show. Then they split up and mostly go their separate ways. But when the time came to do that for the core quartet from the Tony Award-winning Broadway smash Jersey Boys, the performers discovered they didn't want to break up.
"You have four entertainers that grew together and bonded, not only creatively working on a project and launching a mega-hit show that continues to rise and grow strong, but you have these entertainers that bonded musically and creatively, and that's something that's precious," said Christian Hoff, who won a Tony for best featured actor in a musical for his performance as Tommy DeVito, one of the original members of The Four Seasons. "That is what really brought us together outside of the show, even while we were doing Jersey Boys for three years together.
"We enjoyed singing together and putting our sound on all the other great groups of the '60s, not just The Four Seasons."
So they became The Midtown Men.
It started with some gigs during the run of Jersey Boys, including singing for Katie Couric's 50th birthday party. It has since grown into a full-fledged group with a Rat Pack feel that visits the Lexington Opera House this weekend.
The Midtown Men isn't a show; it's a group.
"It's blown up into a full-fledged group and business doing the same stuff that was part of its inception, which was loving each other, loving this music and loving bringing it to the people," Hoff says. "It's certainly a new venture. I don't think four Broadway actors have ever spun off from a show and continued that magic musically on the road, like we are doing."
When rehearsals for Jersey Boys began, the four performers — Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer — knew they enjoyed performing together. But they did not realize how special a collaboration they had until the show opened and critics and fans started throwing bouquets, Hoff says.
"We're approaching this music in a completely new way," Hoff, 44, says. "People identify with that. When they see us, they're reliving the music, but they are renewing their perception of the music as well because you've got four young guys out there singing their hearts out and connecting themselves to the music as if it was our music.
"That's very exciting. That's what we did for Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons on Broadway, and that's what we're doing now for all the '60s icons as The Midtown Men."
To Hoff, it was an exciting era of pop songwriting, with a variety of flavors: the West Coast sounds of the Beach Boys, the Motown of Detroit, Otis Redding and other soul stars from the South and, of course, the British Invasion.
"Carole King and Neil Sedaka and Leiber and Stoller and all of these great artists that were in the Brill Building," Hoff says, referring to the legendary New York building where many music industry executives and songwriters had offices. "You had this great melting pot of styles and influences and multicultural perspectives."
Hoff says The Midtown Men have become "self-titled ambassadors to the '60s," with an old-school analog show that reflects what audiences would have seen when, say, Redding or Sam and Dave or The Beatles came around, performing some of the songs the group now sings.
"We get to relive that and bring that with a new edge," Hoff says. "We are four very unique individuals, ... and what we bring to the stage is a very personal concert as well, because we are basically a new Rat Pack. We interact with one another, we rib one another, we expose each other's talents and unique perspectives.
"We really invite the audience in to share our love and our passion, and our pedigree as innovators from Broadway."