Theatre / Interview

Exclusive: Peek behind the Jersey Boys curtain

We sit down with 'Jersey Boys' Musical Director Luke Hunter and Associate Director Martin Croft to have an exclusive look behind the curtain

Heading into its final weeks at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre before making its way to Melbourne’s Regent Theatre in February, blockbuster musical  Jersey Boys, is a must-see.

Sharing the story of how a group of blue-collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks became one of the biggest American pop music sensations of all time, with hits like Big Girls Don’t CrySherryWalk Like A ManOh What A Night and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons went on to sell 175 million records worldwide.

As the production heads into its final month in Sydney and prepares for its season in Melbourne, we sat down with Jersey Boys’ Musical Director Luke Hunter and Associate Director Martin Croft to take a look behind the curtain and find out just how the production comes together.

Luke Hunter – Musical Director

How did you get started in your role and how long have you been doing it?

I’ve been a Music Director and conductor for 15 years now. I’m lucky enough to have conducted some great shows in Australia. Before that, I was an actor on stage for a few years.

How did you initially become attached to Jersey Boys?

I was sent across to New York in December 2007 to interview for and meet the original creative team. That began what has become a very long association with the show. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked on this show from the very start and have loved working with some incredible people.

Describe to us the experience of bringing the Jersey Boys story to Australian stages this time around.

It’s been wonderful to rediscover the brilliance of this show with a new group of actors and musicians – it’s challenging but richly rewarding. I’ve loved seeing them fall in love with the show. It’s been like coming home and seeing an old friend.

What has been your favourite part of working on this show?

I love that this show brings the musicians and actors together like no other production. The band are an integral part of the show and become very close with the cast. I love seeing the band onstage at the end of the night and the audience dancing along and cheering for them. I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of it.

What has been the biggest challenge?

As the band spend lots of time onstage, they’re constantly running between the stage and the band booth that houses the musicians. It’s challenging to conduct musicians that you can’t see. You have to trust that they’re there and ready. Also, finding singers who can sing like Frankie is always really tough – but we’ve succeeded here – they’re so great.

What has been your favourite song to work on?

I have lots of favourite songs, but I think my favourite two are Workin’ My Way Back To You and Let’s Hang On. I used to listen to these on my parent’s reel-to-reel player when I was 5 and I loved them. It’s great that I get to perform them all these years later.

What can audience members expect from the show?

A great night out! It’s an incredible story, that’s very well told. Plus you get to hear all those amazing hit songs. You’ll leave the theatre singing, I promise.

Martin Croft – Associate Director

Tell us about your role in the Jersey Boys production?

As Associate Director, I am responsible for maintaining the standard of the show, as well as preparing the understudies and being one of the go-to people with regards to anything creative to do with the production.

How did you get started in your role and how long have you been doing it?

I’ve been directing since I was a child and all through my performing career I was always directing concerts, ceremonies and cabarets. I was asked to be Resident Director on the international production of Cameron Mackintosh’s Les Miserables and have since been on the creative team of numerous productions.

How did you initially become attached to Jersey Boys?

I’d been working with Newtheatricals for their production of Boeing Boeing in Melbourne and as soon as I heard they were planning the original Australian production of Jersey BoysI asked to be considered. After a phone interview with the original American Associate Director, I was lucky enough to get the job.

Describe to us the experience of bringing the Jersey Boys story to Australian stages this time around.

The casting requirements for the show are of a very high standard and it’s an extensive procedure, so from the very beginning, we invest a lot of our heart in the show as we try to find the very best people we can. We’ve been very lucky to assemble a first-rate cast that brings as much, if not more, to this production.

What has been your favourite part of working on this show?

It relates to the last question really. Seeing those you have cast bringing the show to life and fulfilling their full potential is what makes it all worthwhile. Also working with such a great team of producers, creatives, stage, and company management.

What has been the biggest challenge?

The challenge is to maintain the clarity of the storytelling. Long runs bring a challenge to all departments and part of my job is to help keep everyone and everything as fresh as opening night.

What has been your favourite scene to work on?

In the second half of the show, there’s a seven-minute scene we call “the sit down”. It’s a very intense scene which affects the whole depth of the show and is a great challenge for all of us. It’s one of those scenes that holds the show together dramatically.

What can audience members expect from the show?

The audience gets everything they’d expect from a band like The Four Seasons but the thing that will surprise them is the depth of the story. The Four Seasons had such an interesting “behind the scenes” story going along with their public success. This is what makes it a truly wonderful show. It’s so much more than a jukebox musical.

Jersey Boys must close at Capitol Theatre, Sydney on Saturday 15 December, before heading to Melbourne’s Regent Theatre from Saturday 23 February. Tickets are available via Ticketmaster.com.au 

Jersey Boys

Capitol Theatre Sydney: Weds 21 Nov - Sat 15 Dec || Regent Theatre Melbourne: Sat 23 Feb - Sun 16 Jun

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