Declan Egan begins his Jersey Boys onstage experience this evening at the Theatre Royal, Sydney. David Allen spoke with Declan about his professional music theatre debut and his role in this blockbuster musical…
Jersey Boys is unquestionably the sleeper hit of the last few musicals seasons in Oz. The sight of four boys in red has been such a familiar scene at the Theatre Royal now that honestly it will seem like quite a gap in the landscape to see it gone! But more than yet another in a line-up of fine pedigree hit shows, Jersey Boys has clearly struck a chord with Australian audiences – and this surprised me until I saw the actual show. I figured such an American story just couldn’t travel – and after a revival season of Shout! (the thrillifying parable of our own young rock’n’roller Johnny O’Keefe) how long could it linger on our stages?
But with warmth and with charm – and a line up of knock’em’sock’em hits used to stunningly powerful effect – Jersey Boys has kept the crowds coming. And the latest addition to the stunning cast is the fresh face of Declan Egan.
Fresh out of the NIDA singer-actor-dancer course, Declan’s enthusiasm combines delight, relief and the passion of the newly minted professional eager to tread the boards.
“The last year was pretty tumultuous. I worked a few casual jobs, all the while auditioning and training – to be cast like this in Jersey Boys as Bob Gaudio, and so soon after graduating is just amazing.”
I admit early on the piece to Declan that I am not skilled at the art of the phone interview and that I’ll try and steer clear of rote questions like what his dream role would be or what his favourite moment in the show is. But I confess that I would like to know which of the iconic hits he sings as a freshly minted member of Australia’s Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons he enjoys the most.
“‘Oh What A Night’ is absolutely my favourite. It has such a great feel to it. I just love the lyrics. Also I love the storyline that comes with it. It’s the most obvious moment in the show when we come out of a concert feel and step into a music theatre setting. I just have so much fun in that number.”
“The rehearsal schedule I have is pretty full-on,” admits Declan as we begin to talk about the show – his Australian music theatre debut. It’s an exciting moment for any performer but Declan is ecstatic.
“It’s a really terrific role. It’s been an incredible trip finding a way to bring him to life. I’ve worked really hard to detail the character and to find my own organic way into the script and into the role. And I am so lucky! The costumes and the sets just help so much. I can feel like they did and really get into character. I believe that putting the costume on is so important because I can just see, coming from the background that the Jersey Boys did, the pride they must have felt in those suits.”
I ask about the cast and what it’s been like stepping in alongside Bobby Fox, Ben Mingay and Glaston Toft as a fellow Jersey Boy.
“I haven’t had a lot of time backstage with the cast. But they have been so great to me. The best thing about it – and about the rehearsal schedule — has been how much time I’ve got to spend backstage. I finish a day rehearsing – and they’re long days – and by the end I’m just brain-fried. But backstage you just can’t help but watch and take in what they’re doing. They’re all so amazing.”
Jersey Boys is set to tour New Zealand, Brisbane and then tour the Australian capitals. “I’m really excited for it all to start. I’m in the thick of it now and I’m so grateful to be here. And to Stephen May and the creative team for all their help.”
Declan Egan, the newest and the youngest of the Jersey Boys, will commence performances tonight (November 15) in Australia at the Theatre Royal in Sydney before continuing on with the show’s New Zealand and Australian tour. And while he is thrilled to be in this blockbuster phenomenon, I look forward very much to a curtain call when I can see Declan enjoying the Australian people’s response to his first show.
Look for the name on billboards and in a red suit jacket. If you haven’t seen the show yet – get your skates on! There is no skimp on talent in Jersey Boys – long may the 21st century Australian music theatre revival continue!