“Growing up in Langhorne, I wanted to be many things, from a pilot to an astronaut to a baseball player and everything in between. And that’s the nice thing about growing up to be an actor. So far, I’ve played a knight, a cowboy, a baseball player and now even a rock star.”
So said Brandon Andrus, now playing the late Nick Massi in Jersey Boys. The award-winning musical comes to the Forrest Theatre Dec. 11 to Jan. 5.
Jersey Boys is the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, and how a group of blue-collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks became one of the biggest American pop music sensations of all time. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide all before they were 30.
Jersey Boys won many awards, including the 2006 Tony Award for Best Musical, the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album, the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Musical and more, and continues to break box office records everywhere it plays.
Andrus, 34, who has been touring with the show for the last two years, acknowledges that when the time came to choose a career, he knew he wasn’t cut out for the world of business like his father.
“And my parents were OK with that. They just wanted me to pursue what I really wanted to do. And for me, ultimately that meant performing,” he said.
So when the time came to apply to college, Andrus chose Ithaca College, intending to enhance his vocal skills. However, he wasn’t accepted into that program but majored instead in theater — until one day a teacher overheard him singing to himself.
The teacher told Andrus he should be a music major, and with that encouragement, and a new audition, Andrus finally settled into the classes of his choice.
Since graduation, Andrus has appeared in a variety of roles in many productions, including Curly in Oklahoma, Sonny in Xanadu, Rocky in Damn Yankees and others. And they all required a little something different from Andrus.
“As an actor, somehow you have to learn to relate to your character,” Andrus explained. “There has to be some level of honesty there. So even though Nick is nothing like Sonny, who is nothing like Curley, they’re all part of me somehow.”
Today, even after two years of playing Nick, Andrus said he keeps the role fresh by keeping that level of honesty alive for each new audience.
He said, “We do eight shows a week, six days a week. Sometimes, even I’m not sure where all that stamina comes from, except to say that there are new audiences at every performance and they deserve the best we have.”
With a role that he said is both physically and emotionally draining, coming back to hometown audiences can be a welcome change, especially to the Forrest Theatre.
“This is the theater where I saw my first professional production, so it means a lot to me,” he says. “Philadelphia audiences are the smartest and most giving audiences I’ve ever played to, so I’m excited to be playing in front of them.” ••
For times and ticket information, call 1-800-447-7400.