Harkin relishes his meaty role
THE first time Anthony Harkin saw Jersey Boys on stage he got chills.
The show was in 2009 in Melbourne and Harkin remembers being blown away by the musical and thinking to himself that he hadn't seen anything like it in years, if ever.
"I thought, 'Wow, this is one to keep an eye on and maybe one day I would be lucky enough to be a part of it'," he said.
Fast forward three years and when the show opens in Brisbane, Harkin will play Tommy DeVito, the member of The Four Seasons who started it all.
The show charts the rise of Frankie Valli, DeVito, Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi as they go from four boys in New Jersey to starring as the Four Seasons.
The group was responsible for iconic songs such as Big Girls Don't Cry, Sherry, Can't Take My Eyes Off You and Oh What a Night and by the time they were 30, they had sold more than 175 million records.
"The show really goes into the back story and it's really quite fascinating," Harkin said.
"And it's a true story. These are real guys who grew up in the same neighbourhood in Jersey and were in and out of jail for petty crime. Music for them was a way up and out of that life and that town.
"Tommy says at the start of the play, there were three ways out of New Jersey: you could join the navy, you could get mobbed up, or you could become famous. Really, that is what this story is all about."
For Harkin, there was only ever one part for him - that of DeVito: "Tommy was a dark guy in some respects.
"He did a lot of work to build a better life for himself. I was fascinated by his tenacity.
"When I saw the show in Melbourne, I knew he was the one for me. As an actor, he is such a great character to play."
But Harkin knew he had to put his own spin on the role and really make it his own.
"The producers were really good. There was no onus to mimic the real guys or the guys who had played them before.
"There was this wonderful freedom and it was a pleasure to have such a meaty role to sink my teeth into.
He credited the strong writing for one of the reasons the show is so loved and respected.
It's a unique musical in that it has quite a strong story which is quite rare these days.
It has been described as a play with songs."
It is the first time that Harkin appears with Declan Egan, Dion Bilios and Glaston Toft.
The other three guys who make up the rest of The Four Seasons, have worked together.
Harkin describes their first rehearsal as "spine-tingly" in the way they just clicked.
He imagines it might have been somewhat like what Valli and boys felt when they first got together and created their now iconic sound.
"It was a lovely surprise and straight away we giving each other a serve.
"The first time we sung together it was like 'wow this really works'," he said.
- Where: Lyric Theatre, QPAC
- When: Opens July 15
- Cost: Tickets start at $60 - $195 (plus $5.95 booking fee)
- Tickets: www.qpac.com.au