PLAINS — Impeccably dressed in matching metallic blue suits with black skinny ties, the Midtown Men dazzled a sold-out crowd at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday with one ‘60s classic after another.
The foursome that rose to fame as the original Broadway cast of the Tony Award-winning “Jersey Boys” – Tony winner Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and Tony nominee J. Robert Spencer – held court for 90 minutes in the Keystone Grand Ballroom, reviving the hits of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons plus favorites from The Beatles, The Rascals, Motown and more.
Backed by a seven-piece band including a sizzling three-piece horn section, the quartet bounded onto the stage with a medley of Four Seasons’ staples “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Sherry.”
Reichard, who played Bob Gaudio, who wrote or co-wrote most of the Four Seasons’ hits including the opening two, welcomed the crowd and explained the Midtown Men’s origins.
“Because of ‘Jersey Boys,’ we fell in love with the music of the greatest decade – the 1960s,” he said. “During intermissions and breaks, we’d gather in one of the dressing rooms and work out the harmonies to all these classic songs.”
The group followed with a nice, horn-driven arrangement of The Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love” with Reichard, still sporting what he called his “summer beard,” taking the lead. Hoff, who won the 2006 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of original Four Season Tommy DeVito, took over the lead vocals for The Turtles’ “Happy Together.”
Spencer, who played Nick Massi in ‘Jersey Boys’ and was nominated for a Tony for his lead role in “Next to Normal,” followed with Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar,” and Longoria, who originally played Joe Pesci (who was credited with bringing the Four Seasons together in the play) before moving on to the Valli role, delighted with The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.”
Although the songs were familiar to the audience through 50 years of radio and TV exposure, each singer was able to reinvent the material by bringing his individual voice, style and personality to each number.
Reichard sparkled on “Up On The Roof,” “Good Lovin’,” “Groovin’” and especially on “Cry To Me,” his featured number from the audition scene in ‘Jersey Boys,’ bringing the crowd to its feet with his spectacular performance.
Spencer hit it out of the park on “California Dreamin’,” “Build Me Up Buttercup” and on a poignant reading of The Beatles’ “In My Life,” which he said has taken on new meaning as he
has recently heard it from his perspective as a husband and father.
Hoff’s highlights included “Never My Love,” “Tears of a Clown” and a fine version of The Zombies’ “Time of the Season.”
Longoria dazzled on the Valli numbers “My Eyes Adored You” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” towards the end of the evening as he bopped around the stage like a mash-up between Valli and Bruno Mars.
It was a bit weird visually as the guys still dressed as clean-cut early ‘60s stars moved on to the later in the decade material like Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” and The Ides of March’s “Vehicle,” yet they managed to pull those off as well thanks to their harmonies and the versatile backing band.
Following a tremendous Motown medley that allowed each member of the ensemble to shine once again on tunes such as “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” (Spencer), “I Want You Back” (Longoria), “My Girl” (Hoff) and “Just My Imagination” (Reichard), the main set came to a close with the classic ‘70s Four Seasons’ song “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” as the crowd danced and sang along.
For the encore, The Midtown Men returned to the Four Seasons songbook for “Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby Goodbye)” as they brought the wonderful evening of nostalgia to a fitting conclusion.
Brad Patton has been reviewing concerts and writing about music for the Times Leader and Weekender for more than five years. He also hosts a two-hour radio show on 88.5 FM-WRKC (Radio King’s College) every Tuesday at 7 p.m.