Midtown Men’s Christian Hoff
Symphony Hall, Springfield, MA
by Shera Cohen
Christian Hoff: singer, actor, guitarist, dancer, businessman. Hoff is one of the original Broadway “Jersey Boys” (JB). Along with the other three “Boys,” the quartet has morphed into “The Midtown Men,” taking their sell-out concert as ambassadors of 60’s music on a USA tour.
This is a paraphrased interview with Hoff.
ITS: Did you realize JB would be a hit?
Hoff: The minute we read the script the first time we knew there was something transcendent about this play. Magic happened. When we sang the first song, kinetic energy sparked. This was something special, although we didn’t realize JB would be so spectacular and live on. Even Frankie Valli doubted that it would be a phenomenon. I’m so happy we were part of it.
ITS: Tell me about the audition.
Hoff: I got a call, “What are you doing?” I answered that I was hanging around with my two kids and making dinner. “Get here NOW,” was the response. So, I grabbed my kids and my guitar, and raced to the audition. They just said “sing anything.” Apparently, they had already wanted someone like me – a tough guy image but soft inside. The director was a visionary and had picked out the personalities of each of us before he met us.
ITS: And you hadn’t met each other?
Hoff: We were all strangers at the start. After you work together as a team, overcome egos, you become a family. We have chosen to stay together. There is energy between each of us. The original chemistry that created JB has led us to this new show, Midtown Men. It was like magic on Broadway, and now it’s magic on the road. We are humble, and at the same time pumped up. We’ve got a kick-ass band, and except for them, we do everything ourselves – produce, choreograph, write arrangements, and do the paperwork of a business. I call us a creative juggernaut.
ITS: How is JB similar to Midtown Men?
Hoff: We are living what we portrayed. In many ways, Midtown Men replicates our personal JB experience. No group of Broadway actors from one show have ever broken off to perform as a unit. We had a chemistry and sound of four individuals who came together in JB. JB became our catalyst to continue as a unit. The sum is greater than each of us. We decided to keep that energy going and created Midtown Men. It takes a whole team to launch a rocket.
ITS: How did you feel when you won a Tony Award?
Hoff: It was a visceral feeling, a culmination of 30 years as an entertainer. To be recognized was transcendent, amazing. The real life men of JB won against all the odds. It was similar for us. I’m so proud to be part of something bigger than myself. I am honored to have been in a role worthy of a Tony Award, and honored to have portrayed Tommy DeVito. We have become good friends. He’s the kindest man.
ITS: Why the title Midtown Men?
Hoff: Just like The Four Seasons, we went through name after name. We wanted to segue from JB to where we are in our careers now. “Midtown” means Broadway and also means the center or any city – where anyone could have grown up. We’re just regular guys, like the people in the audience. Also, we are older now, so we decided to title ourselves “Men” instead of “Boys.”
ITS: Why should people attend this concert?
Hoff: All ages are diggin’ it. The show transcends music interests. It’s nostalgic and innovative at the same time, pure entertainment and joy. We burst out from the heat of the spotlight. Tommy DeVito told me, “You guys are better than we ever were.”
In addition to The Four Seasons, the guys “become” The Beatles, Beach Boys, Jackson 5, and even the Zombies.