Chris Isaacson Presents has announced a one-night-only concert event at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre on Saturday, August 16 at 8pm. Broadway Under the Stars will star Tony Award-winner Jennifer Holliday (Dreamgirls) and will also feature (in alphabetical order) Obba Babatunde (Dreamgirls), Erich Bergen (Jersey Boys, stage and film), Rogelio Douglas, Jr. (In the Heights), Danny Gurwin (Little Women) and Tony Award-nominee Chad Kimball (Memphis). David Galligan will direct, and the music director is Gerald Sternbach.
Erich Bergen took time out from his busy filming schedule in New York to chat about his appearance in Broadway Under the Stars and about his career.
Erich Bergen is best known for his stage portrayal of Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys, a role he played in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and in the First National Tour. Bergen was tapped by director Clint Eastwood to reprise his performance in the Warner Bros feature film, which opened in June. (www.ErichBergen.com)
First of all, congratulations on the film of Jersey Boys! The camera loves you and you were quite funny.
I appreciate that. Thank you.
What are you doing in Broadway Under the Stars?
What we're putting together is sort of a history of musical movies and my connections to them, ending with my experience in a musical movie. Musical films were very influential on me growing up, so we decided to take a look at and sort of make a path through them, looking at the MGM stuff...and also talking about them on stage, I got to do Anything Goes and White Christmas in LA, so we're going to take a look at those productions as well, and go back and do a couple of songs from those as well, and end with Jersey Boys stuff.
It sounds like quite a lengthy number.
Yeah, about a 20 minute set. It's hard because I'm in New York, so they're sort of putting the show together without me and then I'm coming in and doing my thing. I've been rehearsing over scype with everyone.
Have you ever worked with Jennifer Holliday?
No. I've seen her in concert many times. She's fabulous. I saw her in Vegas where she was the guest entertainer in the George Wallace Show. It's always been a thrill, and now I get the chance to work with her.
How did you adapt your stage performance to film? Was it challenging?
I think what was so great was that Clint (Eastwood)...one of the reasons that he hired people from the show was...he always said "You can't beat having 1200. 1500 performances with the role. You can't beat that kind of rehearsal. No one would be able to do it better." He wanted us to continue to do the work that we did onstage in terms of our characters. He didn't want us to rethink it. If you're a smart, in-tune actor, there are some differences that occur naturally when you're working with the camera right in your face. We were saying the same lines; so much of the script was the same.
That's what I liked about the film. He kept it very close to the show.
Exactly. And that was the thing that it was so odd for me to be thinking about certain scenes like in the bowling alley. Onstage it was a piece of plywood that came down from the rafters. You had to pretend it was a bowling alley. We're doing the same scene, the same lines and we're inside of a real bowling alley in Pasadena. There were times when you had to remind yourself, "Oh my God, I'm actually doing this." He was really adamant that we do what it is that we had always done and what he liked about us when he first saw us. The experience was a thrill. Looking back on it all now, it's just wild for me that it even happened.
Would you now say that Jersey Boys is the favorite show that you've done?
It's a show that's been very good to me. Before I was involved in Jersey Boys, I saw the show. I thought it was one of the greatest pieces of live entertainment ever. It is crafted so brilliantly. For that reason, I love it. I love it not because I'm in it; I just love the show. Becoming a part of it is something I have to keep reminding myself of. I'm still and always will be just a fan of it.
Tell me about the TV show you're doing in New York.
I'm filming a new show in New York called Madame Secretary. It stars Tea Leoni, Bebe Neuwirth, Patina Miller, who the Tony for Pippin, Keith Carradine, Tim Daly...great cast.
Do you have a funny part?
I do. It's a one-hour dramatic show, but I'm sort of the comedy of the show. It's beautifully written. it reminds me a lot of The West Wing, and shows like that. We're having a blast. We're just finishing up Episode 3 right now.
I'm so happy for all your success, and I'll look forward to the show on the 16th.
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You do not want to miss this spectacular evening of songs from the world of theatre!
Broadway Under the Stars is at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Boulevard East, in Hollywood, for one performance only on Saturday, August 16 at 8pm. Tickets are $40, $55, and $95; for students and children, tickets are $20. VIP packages are available (includes premium seating and a post-show reception with the artists). Purchase by August 2 and save $5! Discount tickets are available at FordTheatres.org or by calling 323-461-3673. To learn about discounts for groups of eight or more, call 323-769-2147.
A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit The Actors Fund, a national human services organization that helps everyone — performers and those behind the scenes — who works in performing arts and entertainment, serving more than 17,000 people annually. Programs include social services and emergency financial assistance, health care and insurance counseling, housing, and employment and training services. www.actorsfund.org.