One of my favorite places to escape to is the Hawaii Theatre Center, a historic theatre situated in the heart of Honolulu. As cliche as it sounds, there’s just something magical that happens once I step through its doors. I am instantly transported to a new world where my reality seems like nothing but a distant dream, and the explosion of live music and dance lifts my spirits to new heights.
On Saturday, I was taken on a trip down memory lane, to a time period where quartets dazzled audiences through upbeat songs and synchronized dance, where the collaboration of Motown and rock and roll evolved in a Beatles meets the Jackson 5 kind of way: I was taken back to the 1960s, and it was all thanks to a brilliant group called the Midtown Men.
The Midtown Men formed as a result of the four original stars of the Broadway show, “Jersey Boys” — Tony Award winners Michael Longoria, Christian Hoff and Daniel Reichard and Tony Award nominee J. Robert Spencer — simply falling in love with the music of the 60s and wanting to share it with the rest of the world. Hawaii sure was lucky to be the recipient of their talents during their three island concerts — two on Oahu and one on Maui.
I’ve heard a lot of great things about the musical “Jersey Boys” through friends and family who have gone to see the show in Las Vegas, but I regrettably never got the chance to see it. However, after seeing the recent “Jersey Boys” film that came out not too long ago, I was instantly hooked on the tunes of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I mean, how can you not keep replaying “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “Working My Way Back”? So seeing the Midtown Men in concert would be the closest I would get to the stage production of “Jersey Boys.”
Granted, I was probably the youngest person in the audience, but I didn’t care! I was proud to sit in the second row to see these guys perform right in front of me.
I was fortunate to meet them at the news station where I work and found that they’re certainly a bubbly group of guys! They translated their uplifting energy to their music, singing the acappella versions of “Dawn” and “California Dreamin’.” This just offered me proof that Saturday would be beyond entertaining.
I sure was right.
The concert kicked off with a live band performing the first few bars of “Get Ready.” Then came the moment we’d all been anticipating: the Midtown Men coming on stage and singing their first note. From the moment they opened their mouths, I could tell that the audience was immediately immersed and engaged. It was nothing but uphill from there.
The quartet sang a range of fan favorites from the 60s, including “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Happy Together” and “Build Me Up Buttercup.” And in between, they made sure they got a few “Jersey Boys” hits in, performing the songs, “Oh What a Night” and “Cry For Me.” Not only was I blown away by their outstanding voices, but I was highly impressed by their charisma and personalities. I think that’s what made this so different from other concerts I’ve been to in the past. I didn’t feel like I was at a concert, I really felt like I was taken on a musical journey. Maybe it helped that I was so close to the stage that they couldn’t help but sing to me a few times.
Between the songs, they each added their own personal flairs by sharing stories of their upbringings and of their time in Hawaii, even throwing in some “Alohas,” “Mahalos” and shaka signs.
Some of my favorites included:
- Daniel Reichard performing “Cry For Me.” He played Bob Gaudio on Broadway and this was one of his notable songs in the musical. It was clear, when Reichard belted the last few notes, that this is a song kept close to his heart.
- Christian Hoff singing “Never My Love.” He sang it in a thoughtful and honest way that made it hard not to fall in love with his soothing voice.
- The group’s rendition of “Groovin'” and their interaction with the audience, coming up so close to the edge of the stage, gave the performance a personal touch.
- They wrapped up the concert with “Oh What a Night” (prior to the encore) and got the audience up off their chairs and dancing to the beat. It was so much fun!
I think it’s safe to say that this was one of the most memorable shows I’ve been to. They surpassed my expectations above and beyond, and I do hope I’ll someday get to see “Jersey Boys” sometime in the near future, but if not, I’m content saying I watched the Midtown Men.