Arts & Music
'Midtown Men' brings Rat Pack swagger to Clearwater
They take to the stage in custom-made Hugo Boss suits and thin ties. With finger-snapping music from a bygone era and clean-cut good looks, the quartet sings, swings, cracks jokes and shares showbiz war stories. The Midtown Men, a sort of retro “boy band” comprised of middle-aged Broadway veterans, creates a 1960s vibe that recalls the Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin Rat Pack days as well as the harmonies of The Four Seasons, the moves of Motown groups like The Temptations, and the cool machismo of “Mad Men.” Formed by four actors who were in the original “Jersey Boys” cast, the Midtown Men include J. Robert Spencer, Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard and Michael Longoria. They bring their song-filled show to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday.“We were in 'Jersey Boys' for more than a thousand performances,” says Spencer in a telephone interview. “We became close friends so we have a chemistry that makes this work. Not only do we tell our stories but we get to sing some really iconic music of the 1960s.” “It's like a little Johnny Carson, a little Rat Pack and music from a whole decade,” he says. “Jersey Boys,” a hit since it debuted in 2005 and still going strong worldwide, tells the musical story of 1960s pop group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The Midtown Men's repertoire goes beyond the Four Seasons to include golden oldies such as The Monkees' “Daydream Believer;” The Zombie's “Time of the Season; The Drifters' “Up on the Roof;” The Associations' “Never My Love;” The Mamas & the Papas' “California Dreamin';” and more.They also cover those Four Season hits like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don't Cry” and “Candy Girl.” In the original “Jersey Boys,” Spencer portrayed the group's bass singer Nick Massi; Hoff won a Tony Award for his portrayal of band member Tommy Devito; Reichard portrayed band member Bob Gaudio. Also in the original, Longoria created the role of Joey (based on actor Joe Pesci who was a close friend of the Jersey Boys) and later stepped into the role of Valli. Each member of The Midtown Men found success after the “Jersey Boys” run. Longoria has been working on his own album; Spencer starred in the 2008 critically acclaimed “Next to Normal” on Broadway and has his own independent film production company; Hoff has appeared on several TV dramas filmed in New York and sings in nightclubs; Reichard also performs in New York clubs and in concerts.