From boys to Midtown Men

otaylor@thestate.com(803) 771-8362February 24, 2013 

The Midtown Men

COURTESY OF MIDTOWN MEN

As one of The Midtown Men, the dashing vocal quartet that sings decades-old songs, Daniel Reichard is a smooth guy on stage. But he admits that singing hits of yesteryear on stages across the country wasn’t in his career plans.

“With this opportunity that came along, somewhat accidentally, with The Midtown Men, I’ve really been able to see the country in a way I didn’t imagine,” he said.

He mentioned Lafayette, La., and Portland, Maine. On Monday and Tuesday, he’ll be in Columbia. The Midtown Men will perform at 7:30 p.m. both nights at the Koger Center as part of the Broadway in Columbia series.

Reichard, who was building a profile on Broadway, doesn’t get to perform in productions because of his busy touring schedule. And he’s away from his New York City home.

“For me, this has been the most powerful, profound experience in my career,” Reichard said.

More so than “Jersey Boys,” the long-running play that gave him a big break, he added.

“With The Midtown Men, we started it and it kept growing,” he continued. “In that way, it’s been extremely gratifying. This is the opportunity of a lifetime and I’ve got to appreciate it.”

Briefly, here’s how the opportunity came about: Reichard was in the original cast of “Jersey Boys,” a musical documentary on The Four Seasons (later known as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons), acting alongside the other Midtown Men — Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria and J. Robert Spencer — for more than 1,000 performances. Hit songs from the ’60s such as “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)” and “Stay” are included in the musical.

Reichard, Hoff, Longoria and Spencer began performing concerts as the Boys. It led to a 2010 lawsuit by the members of The Four Seasons and the “Jersey Boy” playwrights that claimed the Boys were trying to mislead audiences. That year the quartet changed its name to The Midtown Men and life began imitating art.

“It’s certainly not what I thought I’d be doing,” Reichard said. “Now what we’re doing is living a rock ’n’ roll adventure. In a way, we’re living out the lifestyle that we portrayed in ‘Jersey Boys.’ Now we’re going out and actually living it.”

The Midtown Men are like ambassadors of ’60s music, back when vocal group harmonies were still cool. There’s a Motown sequence in the show. The quartet weave in tales from their lives.

Now the characters they have to study are themselves.

“I’ve really enjoyed branching off into the role of Daniel,” Reichard said. “Our show is self-deprecating. I enjoy having fun with the self-deprecation. Being an entertainer, that’s the part I enjoy the most.

“I like the freedom to be ourselves and making audiences laugh from the way we’re observing our lives and the towns we’re visiting.”

The Koger Center is at 1051 Greene St. $47-$58; (803) 251-2222 or www.capitoltickets.com

For its 20th anniversary, “Parallel Lives, The Kathy and Mo Show,” a Trustus Theatre production starring Dewey Scott-Wiley and Elena Martinez-Vidal, will have a three-night run beginning Thursday. In the production, Scott-Wiley and Martinez-Vidal play a bevy of characters, including the architects of the world. There are some interesting ideas about the creation and function of men and women in this. The play, with an 8 p.m. curtain, runs through Saturday, and a champagne and dessert party will be held after the final showing. Trustus is at 520 Lady St. $30; www.trustus.org or (803) 254-9732

“9 to 5 the Musical” opens Friday at Town Theatre. The musical is based on the 1980 movie starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as three working women who plot to get rid of a not-so-nice boss. (While reading this, how can Parton’s theme song not get stuck in your head?) It runs through March 16. Showtimes: 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. The theater is at 1012 Sumter St. $12-$20; www.towntheatre.com or (803) 799-2510

“The Limelight — A Compendium of Contemporary Columbia Artists, Volume 1” will be released at 5 tonight at Tapp’s Arts Center. “The Limelight,” published by Muddy Ford Press, is a “collection of 18 first-person, narrative essays written by professional Columbia authors and artists about professional Columbia authors and artists.” Ed Madden, Ray McManus, Don McCallister, Jeffrey Day, Aida Rogers and Michael Miller are among the authors featured. Tapp’s is at 1644 Main St. $18; (803) 622-6606

Columbia City Ballet and Jasper Magazine have collaborated for “Body and Movement Explored,” a production that partners ballet dancers, local choreographers and local artists. It will be performed Tuesday-Friday at CMFA ArtSpace. Visual artists such as Michael Krajewski, Whitney LeJeune, Bonnie Goldberg and Lauren Maurer, among others, will respond to ballet dancers. There will be original choreography, live painting, an art gallery in the lobby and documentary footage presented by Jason Stroud. CMFA is at 914 Pulaski St. $10-$25; (803) 799-7605

Palmetto Opera, in conjunction with Teatro Lirico D’Europa, will present “Tosca” at 7 p.m. Saturday at Koger Center. Puccini’s work includes the operatic necessities: scandal, love and death. Teatro is a company that performs around the world. The opera will be performed with supertitles. Koger Center is at 1051 Greene St. $32 and $42; (803) 251-2222 or www.palmettoopera.org

Le Bal Du Moulin Rouge, the title of the Columbia Museum of Art’s 2013 black-tie gala, begins at 7 p.m. Saturday. The museum is set to become a Parisian escape. There will be specialty cocktails and French-inspired cuisine. Performers include The Reggie Sullivan Band, the South Carolina Contemporary Dance Company and the USC Dance Company in the Moulin Rouge Theatre. The museum is at Main and Hampton streets. $150; columbiamuseum.org/gala or call (803) 799-2810

“Black Snow,” playwright Keith Reddin’s adaptation of Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov’s early 20th century novel of the same name, opens Monday at The Center for Performance Experiment. Due to Soviet government censorship, “Black Snow,” about an author whose novel is being adapted — re: changed — for a stage production, was not published until decades after Bulgakov’s death. The play runs through Saturday. The Center for Performance Experiment is at 1512 Pendleton. Free; http://artsandsciences.sc.edu/THEA/

“New Work…The Natural Evolution of Six Artists and a Mountain Retreat” opens Thursday at Gallery 80808. A group of artists — Eileen Blyth, Brucie Holler, Louanne LaRoche, Laurie McIntosh, Lynn Parrott and Jan Swanson — have retreated to the North Carolina mountains to talk about and create art. This is the result on the annual trip. The opening reception is at 5:30 p.m. Friday. The gallery is at 808 Lady St. (803) 252-6134

Jame Lathren’s “The Space Between Time” opens today in the hallway:community art gallery at 701 Whaley. The free opening reception begins at 2 p.m. 701 Whaley is at 701 Whaley St.

In other 701 news, 701 Center for Contemporary Art announced the hiring of Sheldon Paschal as executive director. Paschal is 701 CCA’s first paid staffer.

The South Carolina State Library’s Center for the Book, in conjunction with USC Press and Hub City Press, will open The Speaker @ the Center program Thursday with “Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green.” The book, edited by Kwame Dawes and Marjory Wentworth, was published this month by USC Press. In it writers respond to the Gullah artist’s vivid portrayals through poetry, prose and memoir. Other books: “A Confederate Englishman: The Civil War Letters of Henry Wemyss Feilden,” March 21; “In the Garden of Stone,” April 18; “State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers on the Places They Love,” May 16; and “Save the Last Dance for Me: A Love Story of the Shag and the Society of Stranders,” June 20. The one-hour program begins at noon. The library is at 1500 Senate St. Free; http://statelibrary.sc.gov/

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