Behind every pop star and rock band are those whose songwriting talents bring them their success. The case of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is no exception to this.
From the group’s first big hit with “Sherry” to the song that made Valli famous, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” songwriter and band member, Bob Gaudio wrote the songs that made four boys from New Jersey stars. These songs were not only hits, but were some of the greatest pop songs of all time.
In bringing to life this unheard yet dynamic story, former UC Irvine drama major, Quinn VanAntwerp, is playing Gaudio in the national tour of the Broadway hit, “Jersey Boys.”
“I love that about the show. Bob is a living rock legend who people discover when they see it,” says VanAntwerp.
The role of Gaudio and the show itself were VanAntwerp’s first performing experiences of his acting career after UC Irvine. At the end of his senior year, VanAntwerp spent a few months in Los Angeles before joining the original Toronto production of “Jersey Boys.” Later on, VanAntwerp spent a year on the first national tour of the show and a year with the Broadway Company.
“‘Jersey Boys’ has been everything in my life. It’s where I got my start only a few months after graduation, I met my wife doing ‘Jersey Boys.’ It’s been great,” said VanAntwerp.
Even in his fifth year as Gaudio, VanAntwerp is constantly creating the character. Because the original creative team of the show, including three members of the Four Seasons themselves, VanAntwerp continues to learn about his character.
The casting for the show is always top-notch. In each production, the casting team hopes to cast actors and actresses whose qualities and sounds come as close to the Four Seasons as possible.
VanAntwerp even jokes that although he has been in several different casts of the show, upon walking into the room at the first meeting with the new cast, he knows exactly which role the cast members are going to play just by looking at them.
There are times when VanAntwerp feels as if he is getting into the role for the first time. As new challenges come into his life, he finds some hidden insight about the script and the character that resonates with him.
Although VanAntwerp has performed in the show on Broadway, he loves being a part of the National Tour. He loves performing in venues larger than on Broadway, as well as going into different cities across the country each night.
“‘Jersey Boys’ is like a rock concert in the middle of a play. It’s a lot of fun being able to perform like a musician each night for different audiences,” said VanAntwerp.
Despite all of his success so far, VanAntwerp credits UC Irvine as providing him with a major stepping stone for his career. At the university, he performed in eight or nine of the Drama Department shows in the Robert Cohen Theater and participated in the New York Satellite Program, which he is thankful for as it gave him his first idea of what life in New York was like.
VanAntwerp enjoys coming back to the university, and was proud to have been able to speak at the 2014 Drama Honors Convocation.
In the meantime, VanAntwerp will continue to “Walk Like a Man” on the stage, “Working His Way Back” to the hearts of many.