Things I learned at the “Jersey Boys” backstage tour

Last night I visited Jersey Boys again, this time to review the show for Edge. As an added bonus, we were invited to a post show backstage tour.

Things I learned:

  • The bowling balls used in the show are rubber.
  • The elevator that lifts the Jersey Boys up for their flashy entrances could sever an arm should they have it sticking out. There’s a camera directly overhead of this elevator that the stage manager watches to ensure the actors don’t have any limbs sticking out — and if they do, the show is halted.
  • The Bank of America Theatre has roughly 700 more seats than the August Wilson Theatre, where Jersey Boys plays on Broadway.
  • The stage itself seems very tiny when you’re on it, in person, facing the auditorium. The auditorium, however, is huge and high.
  • The Frankie Valli alternate sings along backstage with the regular Frankie Valli at some points in the show to give that signature echo that made Valli’s voice “pop”.
  • Actors’ Equity doesn’t f*ck around, as evidenced by this note on the backstage bulletin board:


If you can’t make out the memo from my grainy bberry camera photo, here are some highlights:

Blah blah blah all Equity members must:

  • Remember that, even though places for each act will be called, you alone are responsible for all of your entrance cues.
  • Cooperate with the Stage Manager and Assistant Stage Managers, Dance Captain and Fight Captain.
  • Take proper care of, and make no unauthorized changes in, your costumes, props, or make-up.
  • Maintain your performance as directed.
  • Appear at curtain calls in complete costume and make-up.

Discipline is a sign of professionalism. Please maintain a professional attitude at all times.

(It’s rather reassuring that big budget musicals have adopted the same corporate smear that us folks in cubes enjoy.)

Let’s see…what else…

  • The big grand piano used in a few scenes is actually a real grand piano, but gutted of its strings, etc.
  • All the instruments used by the Jersey Boys and other actors are real — but not actually played by the actors. The band takes care of that.
  • The understudies and ensemble members who lead the backstage tours don’t seem to enjoy doing them too much. Can’t say I really blame them.
  • The main drum kit used in the Chicago production is moved around on a track. On Broadway, the drum kit comes up through the stage via a lift.
  • Each understudy/swing has their own set of costumes, which is an Equity rule. It’s interesting to see all the characters costumes lined up on a giant rack in the same order, but different sizes.
  • A single line was cut from the show recently, merely because the director didn’t like it anymore. Nothing major — only a few seemingly insignificant words. The cut was originally made in the Australian production a few weeks ago, and the rule is if it’s cut in one production, all productions around the world must cut it. There was a reminder of this line cut on the bulletin board as well.
  • There’s a quickchange area just off the stage for the ladies, who change costumes exactly 235,345 times a show. It’s curtained off for a bit of privacy.
  • Backstage areas are cramped and tiny.

I just found that a person in my group took photos of the tour — here.

I appreciate the opportunity, Margie Korshak Inc.!

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