'Jersey Boys': Meet the Unknown Stars

9:00 AM PST 06/21/2014 by Hilary Lewis
AP Images
Michael Lomenda, Vincent Piazza, John Lloyd Young and Erich Bergen at the "Jersey Boys" New York screening.

The musicals, guest-starring gigs, cover songs (including of hits by Britney Spears and Madonna) and Pizza Hut commercial that prepared Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda and John Lloyd Young for their lead roles in the Clint Eastwood-directed film adaptation of the Broadway show.

The biggest star of Warner Bros. Jersey Boys movie may be the one behind the camera: director Clint Eastwood.

Many of the film’s lead roles are played by stage actors who appeared in various productions of the Broadway musical, making them familiar with the material but unfamiliar to movie audiences.

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The quartet of actors playing the Four Seasons on the big screen consists of Vincent Piazza (Tommy DeVito), John Lloyd Young (Frankie Valli), Erich Bergen (Bob Gaudio) and Michael Lomenda (Nick Massi). Piazza is known for his role as Lucky Luciano in Boardwalk Empire and has a number of other TV and film credits to his name, including appearances in Rescue Me and The Sopranos.

But Bergen, Lomenda and Young are all relative newcomers to the film world. Take a look back at what they’ve done to prepare to play Frankie Valli and Co. and what they’re doing next.

Erich Bergen (Bob Gaudio):

Bergen launched Jersey Boys’ first national tour and then spent two years in the Vegas production before he was dropped from the show for reasons that still remain a mystery. “I’d rather not go into it. It’s all in the past, and those people are dear friends to me,” Bergen said about being let go from the Vegas production. “The hardest thing is that it got weird at the end, [but] you have to let go to have any kind of career."

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Before reprising the role of Gaudio in the movie, Bergen previously auditioned for the project when Jon Favreau was set to direct, but he didn’t get the part. “After my audition, the casting director called my agent and said, ‘He’s not right for the role,’ and my agent asked, ‘You mean the role he’s played for three years?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ So we dropped it, we let it go and then this happened,” Bergen told The Hollywood Reporter at a New York screening of the movie earlier this month.

Apart from his Jersey Boys experience, Bergen previously guest-starred on The Dana Carvey Show, Gossip Girl, Desperate Housewives, Person of Interest, Franklin & Bash and Children’s Hospital. He made his feature film debut in the 2013 indie musical How Sweet It Is co-starring Paul Sorvino and Erika Christensen. He was also a Pizza Hut delivery guy — in a TV commercial. And he released an album, The Vegas Sessions, featuring original songs and covers of "Billie Jean," "Like a Virgin," "Blow Me a Kiss" and Britney Spears’ “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman,” which Bergen previously said he does as a joke, calling the track “the worst song ever written.” You can play the album on Spotify or even launch an Erich Bergen-themed radio station on Pandora. Bergen fans can also catch him in CBS’ fall drama series Madam Secretary, starring Tea Leoni.

Michael Lomenda (Nick Massi):

Canadian Michael Lomenda played Nick Massi in the Toronto and touring productions of Jersey Boys. Lomenda grew up in Alberta town of Stettler where he developed a love of musical theater. “When I was growing up in Stettler and my family bought me tickets to see the Phantom of the Opera, Grease or The Who’s Tommy...I saw my first musical theatre shows on the stages that we’ll be performing on which...is kind of full circle for me, so that’s pretty amazing,” Lomenda told the Calgary Herald before Jersey Boys’ local run.

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The son of a former hockey player, Lomenda initially studied architecture at Red Deer College before switching to Sheridan College to study musical theater, according to reports. The Jersey Boys movie is his first film role with his only prior screen credit being the TV movie documentary True Bond, where he played Ian Fleming, but Lomenda previously starred in stage productions of Hairspray, Grease, A Chorus Line, Cabaret, Miss Saigon, Guys and Dolls and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He’s now moving from Toronto to L.A., hoping to “hit the ground running," he said.

John Lloyd Young (Frankie Valli):

John Lloyd Young may be the best-known of Jersey Boys’ theater vets, originating the role of Frankie Valli in the musical’s Broadway production and winning the 2006 Tony for best actor in a musical. He also opened Jersey Boys in London earlier this year. Prior to Jersey Boys, Young appeared in a number of New York theater productions including Spring Awakening and The Chosen.

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The Brown University graduate guest-starred on Glee, Law & Order and CBS’ Vegas and made his feature-film debut in Oy Vey! My Son is Gay!! He also released album of ‘60s R&B songs called My Turn…, which is available for streaming on Spotify.

The actor-singer, who’s also a visual artist, is also a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, alongside CAA’s Bryan Lourd, Ed Norton, Kerry Washington, Forest Whitaker, Alfre Woodard, Sarah Jessica Parker and Anna Wintour, among others. Young recently said that as part of his work with the committee he and Kal Penn will work with kids in a Des Moines, Iowa school district, “re-inserting arts into their curriculum to increase their school performance and their school culture.”

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