Aaron De Jesus Plays Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys
The legendary drama of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons made history and inspired the musical and film Jersey Boys, but cast member Aaron De Jesus says there’s actually no drama on tour. All the cast members get along great and he says it has been a pleasure to play the icon of Frankie for a year and half now on the U.S. tour.
Previously, Aaron De Jesus played Joey in Las Vegas and understudied Baq in Wicked when it played at the Adrienne Arsht Center in 2010. Tonight Jersey Boys opens at the Arsht Center in Miami and runs until April 9th.
However it wasn’t easy becoming Frankie, Aaron says. After many auditions he was ready to call it quits.
“When I finally got the part it was during a time when I was about to be unemployed,” he said. “My wife and I had just had a baby and the future for us was completely open. I had auditioned so many times that in my mind I decided that was going to be the very last time. It was kind of my last ditch effort.”
Ever since Aaron landed the role, him and his wife Gail Bennet who is also in showbiz have been juggling their careers with raising their daughter. She has been on the road with him driving down from Washington D.C. to Fort Myers and now down to Miami. Playing Frankie Valli has hit closer to home this year due to the challenges of raising a family on the road.
“For me the theme of Jersey Boys is that the family is everything,” Aaron said. “Although Frankie says that early on in his career and he doesn’t necessarily exemplify that, he learns later in life that family truly is everything and that fame comes with a price.
“That strikes a very personal chord with me being on the road for the past year and a half. That’s one of the reasons why I have my daughter on the road with me now, and why my wife and I do everything we can to spend as much time together as possible. Sometimes that means we have to make sacrifices professionally and personally to make sure our family stays together.”
Not only is Aaron inspired by Frankie’s story of family and fame, but also his work ethic since the beloved singer is still performing at the age of 83.
“He turns 83 this year and is still touring,” Aaron said. “Frankie is a work horse and a force to be reckoned with, and that’s why he has been so successful all these years. He has a career that has continued for over 60 years and is still after all this time performing in big venues. He’s amazing.
“As far as what I have done to honor Frankie is I do the best to understand who he is and what he has been through. I do my best to emulate that, and certainly after the last year on the road I’ve come to understand on a personal level what it is he really went through, and that has been an invaluable experience for me.”
Aaron has met Frankie a number of times and has also performed for him on a few occasions. He says it is really cool to think the man he is playing is not only a real person but also a person who could walk into a show at any moment.
The reception of the musical–with both Frankie Valli and audiences all over the country–has been overwhelmingly positive. Aaron says that whether the audience is lively or more quiet at the beginning of the show, by the end of it everyone is on their feet dancing and having a great time.
“The songs are fantastic, the staging and presentation of the numbers is creative and exciting,” Aaron said. “The story is great, and it’s a true story. This has all the drama of an episode of The Sopranos. There is tragedy but there is also triumph in the show. It just has everything a good story should have. But more than anything it’s a story about triumph and overcoming the odds.”
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