When I ask Daniel Scott what makes Jersey Boys different to the other shows he’s worked on, he says one thing – “It’s a real blokes’ show.”
“Usually when you’re on a stage and looking out into the audience you can spot those real blokey men because it’s written all over their face that they don’t want to be there,” he says.
But the situation couldn’t be more different in Jersey Boys. “It’s the real men who are getting into this show,” Scott says. “They’d usually be out watching football, but they often have tears in their eyes by the end. It’s quite extraordinary.”
It must be a bit of a different experience for Scott, who has previously performed in Dusty, Shout and Cats and won acclaim for his performance as Adam (Felicia) in the original cast of Priscilla.
Scott has played the role of songwriter and record producer Bob Crewe in the Australian production of Jersey Boys since the show begun in June 2009. Scott says that Crewe was originally from New Jersey but had to reinvent himself and change his accent to be taken seriously in the music industry.
“The role is written to be quite camp in the show,” Scott says, “but when they first got the show up and running, Bob Crewe went up to Bob Gaudio and said ‘I was never like that! I was never that gay!’ and then Gaudio got out a photo of Bob Crewe standing kind of like a tea pot with a martini in the upper hand, wearing a kaftan, and said ‘you want to tell me that you weren’t that gay?’”
But Scott is always careful to make sure that his performance remains true to the spirit of the real Bob Crewe and never becomes just a caricature. “He’s a wonderful character to play, because he’s slightly out of this world, but at the same time I have to keep his feet firmly on the ground because he’s a real person,” he says.
When I ask Scott how he’s managed to play such a variety of roles so convincingly over his career, he says that the key is trusting in the script and trusting in your abilities. “Early on in my career I had all this intensity and I had all this gung-ho but I didn’t really have the trust in myself as an actor, so I ended up trying a bit too hard,” he says.
“Over the years, eventually you come to a point where you know that it’s what you do for a living and think ‘I can actually do this.’ And once I got that thought into my head, I just started trusting everything more and from there, the doors all started opening.”
Scott says the script of Jersey Boys is the absolute strength of the show. “You can categorise the show as a juke-box musical, but the script is just so and so well thought through. The writers really just took their time thinking about how they would tell this story, and it really shows. The whole show is very fluid.”
Despite the awesome success of the show, Scott originally had misgivings about auditioning, only knowing a few Four Seasons songs from the 1990 Cher movie Mermaids. “I just remember thinking that I’d be just stuck on the set of Mermaids, stuck in an odd, warped 1960s world,” he says. But the whole story changed when Scott eventually read the script and discovered the story of the Four Seasons.
Having been with the show for almost two years now, Scott says he’s yet to get sick of the songs. He says the key to keeping a performance fresh and keeping sane over such a long season is in the way you think about performing. “I love theatre, but it’s my job, it’s not my life,” Scott says. “It’s definitely an important part of my life, but I really treat it just like going into work, just like any other job and doing the best that I can do. But I really just keep it simple and not put too much pressure on myself or on the show.”
Scott says that he keeps himself occupied backstage by doing crosswords, sudoku, reading and has just recently taken up knitting (“Sexy, hey?”) but still finds the show vocally challenging.
“Singing up there in that high register when you’ve got a sore throat is pretty nasty. Where it sits vocally, it’s not the most natural sound to make. When you’re singing backstage doing the backing vocals just by yourself, you can really sound like a wailing cat.”
“But it’s fun, I mean, how often do you get paid to sound like a cat on heat? Not very often, unless you’re in Cats of course. So I guess there’s two boxes ticked off now!”