The Midtown Men perform "Happy Together"
(Ed. Note: I met these dudes on Friday morning -- this morning -- at the Midtown Starbucks location, so this blog is a happy accident. They were bright-eyed and impeccably-coiffed and outfitted while most people were still in their bedclothes.)
The four members of The Midtown Men - Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer - first met and performed together in the original Broadway production of Jersey Boys, a jukebox musical based on the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. That was in 2005. The success of that show made the four favorites with the New York crowd; their tight harmonies and swinging style made them popular guest performers. Their performances away from the Jersey Boys set eventually led to their creating a new group. "We realized we really love singing together," Daniel Reichard tells us, "so a few years ago we started touring as The Midtown Men."
This weekend the Midtown Men take their music to the next level, appearing with the Houston Symphony, their first-ever performance with such an orchestra. As with Jersey Boys, the singers are still focused on music from the 1960s but they aren't limited to Frankie Valli tunes. "Now we sing music from The Beatles, The Temptations, The Mamas & the Papas, lots of groups from that time. For any fan of the music of the 1960s, our show is like a full course meal. You get a bit of everything."
The set list includes "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," and "Happy Together," among other golden oldies. "What's fun about this is that we get to pay tribute to the incredible artists that introduced these songs, but we get to put our own modern sensibility to them. We're very reverent to this music, but at the same time there's this sort of fun, loose vibe. And we're performing with the Houston Symphony; it's going to be surreal. It's really exciting for us. And like the audience, this is a first for us, too."
Reichard says he thinks the orchestra is going to enhance the experience for the audience. "We're so excited to hear strings with this music, to hear a full woodwind section. We expect the evening to have more of a sophistication than our regular show. I know it's going to add dimensions to the music that we can't just can't get with our seven-piece band."
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The tunes are still audiences favorites, more than 40 years after being hits, Reichard says, because they're well-crafted. "Some songs we have literally sung thousands of times for audiences, but each time we sing them, it's like the first time. They are just so fresh and fun."
Audiences should look out for the Motown medley near the end of the show. "Our Motown sequence is our pride and joy," Reichard says. "We take our audience through about ten minutes non-stop of hits. It's really a fantastic climax to the show.
"You know we started this show with four microphones, four stools and a piano. That was in 2007. Five years later, we're going to be performing with one of the most prestigious symphonies in the country, we're just pinching ourselves. We're so proud that we've taken our little idea so far."
The Midtown Men perform with the Houston Symphony at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, visit the symphony's website or call 713‑224‑7575. $25 to $127.