Thursday, May 8, 2014

THEATER: Into the Woods and Jersey Boys (October Issue 2013)

When I ask my two year old if he wants something, like a cracker, his response is always, “Two cracker, two cracker!”  This is has been my attitude for this month’s theater story because I want to talk about, “Two shows! Two shows!”  October is full of great theater (see the menu), and the two I’m sharing about here are Into the Woods put on by Studio Tenn and Jersey Boys at the TPAC.   They have a very interesting connection so read on.

Into the Woods has been on Studio Tenn’s short list for a long time.  I spoke with Managing Director Jake Speck and Artistic Director Matt Logan about why that is and what makes this show so unique.  Jake and Matt really love this “absolutely fabulous” show that tells what happens after “happily ever after”.  They have just been waiting to do it, when the timing is right.  “It’s not as a popular a name as Sound of Music or My Fair Lady,” Jake said.  “We’re at the point now that we’ve created a rapport with our audience, and it’s something people will trust us on.”  Being in October also makes this enchanting show come at a great time with all the fairy tale characters, witches and the like.  Those components make it a kid friendly show.  However, make no mistake, this is not “children’s theater”.  There is something in it for everybody.  “Seeing the story unfold through a child's eyes reminds us how we are all shaped by our own childhood validations,” Logan said. “In the end, it's not so much about children as it is about the child that manages to endure in each of us—in our hopes, fears, dreams, expectations and imaginings.”

Jersey Boys is the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. It tells of how a group of blue-collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks became one of the biggest American pop music sensations of all time. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide - all before they were thirty.   

So what’s the connection between Into the Woods and Jersey Boys?  Jake Speck is that connection.  He played the role of Bob Gaudio for three and a half years, with two of those years being on Broadway.  After our discussion on Into the Woods, Jake let me pick his brain a little about being in Jersey Boys and his thoughts of the upcoming performance at the TPAC. 

Bob Gaudio lives in Nashville, and Jake stays in contact with him.  Jake said he had to actually audition for the role in front of Gaudio.   “Gaudio was around a good bit, “ Jake said.  “He was always full of incredible information and critiques.”  He also said that Bob will tell you that his character in Jersey Boys is a very heightened version of himself.  Playing Gaudio was an incredible time in Jake’s life, and he will be on the panel during TPAC’s Art Appetizer before the show on October 3oth to discuss it further. Gaudio is a big supporter of Studio Tenn and comes to their shows, which brings this all full circle for Jake, and of course, for my “two shows” story.  To find out about both, go to and

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