London Jersey Boys Star Matt Corner on His Frankie Valli Transformation & More

Home   /   London Jersey Boys Star Matt Corner on His Frankie Valli Transformation & More

first_img View Comments Declan Egan, Simon Bailey, Matt Corner & Matt Hunt in ‘Jersey Boys’ (Photo: Brinkhoff & Mögenburg) Jersey Boys has set up shop as a West End long-runner. The Olivier Award-winning musical all about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is now on its second London theater, the Piccadilly, and is currently hosting a fresh set of principal actors. caught up with Matt Corner, the delightful actor now playing Frankie, to talk Jersey accents, singing falsetto and the appeal of golf.Welcome to your first West End starring role!Thank you! I graduated from drama school three and half years ago, so it seems totally surreal to me to have reached this point. If your career is about climbing Everest, I feel as if I’ve now made it to base camp.You have a history with Jersey Boys already.Yes, I started out 18 months ago in the first national tour of the show as the alternate Frankie doing two shows a week, which suited me perfectly, and then they gave me the part on the tour. In London, this is the first time since the show opened in the West End that all Four Seasons are brand new, so that’s been quite special—all four of us are bonding just as the guys did in real life.What did you know about the Four Seasons before the offer came your way?I knew the show but didn’t know much about the band.I bet you learned quickly.I went away and did my research and listened to all their original tracks to get a sense of the sound and how Frankie was achieving it. I saw the film and thought John Lloyd Young was excellent, but mostly I didn’t want to listen to other people’s impersonations. I wanted to try and make it my own, and the best way for me to do that was to go right back to the beginning.Did you know you could sing so high?That totally surprised me. I’ve always been able to sing high and preferred rock-style tenor music like AC/DC or Queen and Bon Jovi—and also Stevie Wonder. But when I started down the audition process for this, I thought, “I better get the falsetto sound under my belt,” so I kind of stumbled into it.What about capturing the physical resemblance?I have blond hair and blue eyes and am 5’9” whereas Frankie’s 5’5”, so this was never a part I looked at and thought, “I could play that.” But they put a wig on me and darkened my eyes and cast everyone around me bigger and it works. Our Bob Gaudio [Declan Egan] is 6’5”!Have you met Frankie?Back in December when he was on tour, I went to see his show in Glasgow. My best friend had booked me in for my birthday present, and we went backstage afterward and sat in his dressing room.How did that experience affect your performance?It informed me in a lot of my choices in terms of what I was doing onstage. Frankie has this power about him and is very still: he doesn’t give a lot away. So I try to arrive at that sense of stillness when we reach the end of our show since that’s him; that’s his aura.Did you worry about the accent demands of the role?We have a Jersey boy—or man, I should say—in the cast: Mark Heenehan, who plays Gyp DeCarlo. He’s the real deal. It’s lovely to have that authenticity, so he can check our accents if they’re off. He hasn’t said anything to me so far.Have you ever been to New Jersey?I haven’t, but I’m desperate to go! I want to visit the Belmont Tavern in Belleville where these guys played; if and when I go over, they’ve said they’ll show me around. Also, I have a singing coach [in New York] named Katie Agresta, who looks after all the Frankies and who teaches me by Skype, so it would be great to go see her.How do you relax?I play a lot of golf in the daytime. That’s the perfect sport for me. I have a gold membership with a golf club five miles out of London and that’s my getaway from it all: it’s my slice of the countryside.Does this role permeate your offstage life—for instance, do you find yourself singing “Sherry” in the shower?I tend to save that for the show. You know you love this music when you hear it every night and it’s like the first time you’ve heard it. Every night the opening chord of “Oh, What a Night” makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and that’s the honest truth.What’s next for you?I’m absolutely besotted with the lead character [Christopher] in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.I’d really like to play that part. It’s something full-on that you’ve really got to throw yourself into, which would be an awesome challenge. I guess we’ll see.last_img

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