Michael Longoria is a Broadway star who is known for playing the role of Frankie Valli from Broadway’s Jersey Boys and/or the vocal group, The Midtown Men (original cast of Jersey Boys). Michael just released his first Christmas album, Merry Christmas Darling, a romantic holiday album with a throwback 60s vibe that will make you want to hang up your stocking, snuggle up by the fireplace, and get into the Christmas spirit. This family-friendly album will also be Broadway Records first Christmas album. The album is now available at www.BroadwayRecords.com , Amazon.com and across digital platforms.
Following the release of his debut solo album, Broadway Brick By Brick, Michael Longoria sings us home for the holidays with a collection of his Christmas favorites. Merry Christmas Darling, a romantic holiday album with a throwback 60s vibe, will make you want to hang up your stocking, snuggle up by the fireplace, and get into the Christmas spirit. Longoria’s winter wonderland love-note includes standards like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”, weaved in with modern day classics such as “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, and “Last Christmas”. The album also features the debut of an original Christmas song co-written by Michael Longoria and Rona Siddiqui called “Merry Me This Christmas”. Merry Christmas Darling features music arrangements by Rona Siddiqui and is produced by Grammy nominee Michael Croiter.
Via a recent interview, Michael discussed his career and new album.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in music and theater and which passion came first, singing or acting?
Michael Longoria (ML): When I was a little boy, I saw a dance troop perform in a public park. I must have been really into it because my mom enrolled me in a jazz dance class with the company that year. My mom is a singer so I grew up with singing being part of the language we used to communicate. But it wasn’t until I saw West Side Story that I was able to imagine a life on the stage.
MM: How did you break into theater and make it all the way to Broadway?
ML: I auditioned and was accepted as a scholarship student in the Drama Department to study acting at Tisch School of the Arts. After I graduated, I was a singing waiter at a famous Times Square restaurant called “Ellen’s Stardust Diner“. At “Ellen’s”, I had to wait tables and sing 50s and 60s music so for about a year I had to learn all of these songs that would color my voice in a way that would make it ripe to audition for “Hairspray” on Broadway (a block away from the diner).
MM: How did land the role of Frankie Valli on “Jersey Boys”?
ML: After a 2-year run in “Hairspray”, I was lucky enough to audition for “Jersey Boys” which had already been primarily cast with a regional tryout run in La Jolla which I wasn’t a part of. But when they came to Broadway, they were looking for short Italian looking tenors. I called the casting director myself and had to explain to her that I was right for her show. I took a lot of convincing but finally she let me come in and audition with the song “Sherry”. I was cast to originate the role of a 16-year-old version of the famous actor Joe Pesci and was asked to also take on the role of Frankie Valli during the matinee performances, as the role was super challenging. Two matinees a week turned into a full run as the starring role where the picture outside the theater was a very young me in an oversized Frankie coat and a microphone in my hand. It was an amazing opportunity that “Jersey Boys” gave me as an actor to take on two major roles in an original Broadway show.
MM: Prior to assuming the role, did you meet Frankie in person? What does he think of the show?
ML: When Frankie came to see me play him in “Jersey Boys”, no one warned me. I remember the audience was electric that night and I was thinking, “wow we are nailing this show tonight!” The big climax of the show comes and I step out center stage for the big “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” solo and the crowd leaps to their feet. I thought, “All this for me?!?” And then I looked into the audience and saw Frankie Valli himself standing in the center of the house. The audience had known the whole time and were clapping so loud because HE was there! He came backstage and said, “Michael, you were sensational!” He was really supportive that year and asked me to join him on stage at one of his concerts. It was awesome!
MM: What do you most enjoy about being part of “Jersey Boys” and how, if at all, does it inspire your own creativity?
MM: You’ve released your own albums and now have a Christmas one! So, what are your favorite Christmas songs and memories?
ML: I co-wrote a song for this album called, “Merry Me This Christmas”. It’s my favorite because it’s the story of how I met my husband at a Christmas party and how we would later walk down the aisle in a December wedding. I made a new favorite Christmas memory. And that was recording this love note to all you Christmas Darlings out there who want to tell that special someone you care. Let this be the year you risk it all and fall in love under the twinkle of Christmas lights!
MM: How long did it take to record this album and have you a favorite song?
ML: I started recording this album in May so I was hearing Rudolph jingle and bop around when everyone else was at the beach. What I learned was that Christmas music softens your heart, no matter what time of year you listen. It’s great that we, as a collective society, have agreed to have a “holiday” season because you can’t help but smile when this music starts to play and becomes the soundtrack to our winter days. I found myself in a place of hope and love when I was learning and singing these lyrics. A song lyric from a Kelly Clarkson song, “Wrapped In Red”, inspired the main message of this album. “This Christmas, I’m gonna risk it all. This Christmas, I’m not afraid to fall!”.
MM: What are some of the most memorable stories you have about being a singer and an actor?
ML: My Broadway debut. I was supposed to have one more week of rehearsals for “Hairspray” before going on at the Neil Simon Theater on Broadway but an emergency arose and the show needed me to go on for a role that I had never rehearsed. I found out at half hour call to places. During the show, the other actors pulled and pushed me to where I needed to be. One cast member yelled out during the Motor Mouth Maybelle number, “Dance with Judine! Dance with Judine!” I hadn’t met the whole cast yet and I remember thinking, “Who the hell is Judine?!?” Lucky for me I had a real good friend from college who was also in the show and he coached me through the number. Judine, a gorgeous dancer towering at least 2 feet above me (without her wig), came dancing toward me and let me know with one look that SHE was leading!
MM: Overall, what are your biggest aspirations for the future?
ML: If I can continue to record albums, I’d be a happy guy. I plan on going back into the studio a after Christmas!
To celebrate the album’s release, Michael will make his Birdland concert debut on Monday, December 10 at 8:30pm at Birdland Theatre. For tickets to this exciting new Christmas concert, please visit http://www.ticketfly.com/event/1775915. To hear more, click here: ▶Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by MICHAEL LONGORIA: MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING
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