The Tony, Grammy and Olivier Award-winning smash hit musical Jersey Boys has returned to the West End at the newly refurbished Trafalgar Theatre.
We had a chat with one of its cast, Ben Joyce, about his experience playing the role of Frankie Valli, his professional acting career and his favourite moments from the production.
Hi Ben, congratulations on getting this role, a huge achievement as someone who is yet to graduate from Mountview drama school. What first drew you to the part and Jersey Boys?
There’s always been a place in my heart for Jersey Boys. It was the first West End musical I ever saw. It ignited the love I have for performing and was the first real moment I knew I wanted to do it as a career. Frankie Valli was a dream role for me, so when I found out I’d got the part it was one of those “pinch me” moments.
Have you always aspired to train as an actor? If not, when did you finally realise you wanted to pursue this path as a profession?
Not specifically musical theatre but I’ve always loved to perform in some way, whether that was singing, acting, or making silly videos with my mates on my camcorder as a kid – putting on shows and telling jokes. I first got into theatre when I was nine and I joined a local musical theatre group. I did many shows growing up until, eventually, I was doing it at school, going to drama college and training to pursue it as a career. I saw my first West End production when I was 14 and it made me realise I wanted to do it seriously.
What are your favourite parts of the musical?
My favourite parts of the musical have changed throughout my time at the show. At the moment, my favourite parts are Walk Like a Man and Can’t Take My Eyes off You: moments the audience get to really appreciate the music of The Four Seasons – and they go wild!
How would you describe your experience in rehearsals with the rest of the cast and crew?
I loved the rehearsal process. After the past year and a bit we’ve had, it was magical to see the appreciation and gratitude people had to be back in a rehearsal room. For me, it was an exciting, new experience. Everyone was raring to go and that was reflected in how well we all (the cast, crew, creatives, everyone!) gelled and bonded, and still do to this day.
What did you find most challenging, and can you tell us any specific things you did to prepare for the role of Frankie Valli?
Many elements in preparing for the role of Frankie Valli were challenging and took time to get to grips with. There’s always an unspoken pressure in playing a real-life person, especially one that could walk in the room any minute. So that was a challenge in itself. Frankie goes from 15 to 56 throughout the timeline of the show: a challenge for me was showing the ageing process and doing it convincingly.
What are you looking forward to the most from the shows?
I cannot wait to bring back some of the happiness that theatre gives to people. This show makes audiences leave with a big old smile on their face anyway, but to be bringing this feel-good show post-pandemic fills people with joy and I feel so grateful to be a part of it.
There are some very well-known songs in the soundtrack. What are some of your favourites?
There are so many great songs it’s hard to choose. My favourite song out of all of them would be Fallen Angel. It’s a beautifully written song and I love to sing it every night.
Do you always intend to perform on stage or are you also thinking of foraying into film or television?
I’d love to try my hand at TV and film. I’ve already had a great introduction to TV so I would love to go back to that at some point. Who knows what the future holds.
Who inspires you most from the world of theatre?
I have many inspirations within the world of performing, whether that be screen actors or legendary musical theatre actors. I love the work that Jeremy Jordan has produced over the years and he’s someone I’ve looked up to as I’ve grown up, especially with my singing. I also adore watching Cynthia Erivo perform. She has a touch of class about her, and you believe everything she says. A tremendous actor.
Any grand plans for the future?
I’m very much loving my time in this show so I haven’t thought much into what might come next. I have many things I’d like to tick off in my career. One I can think of now would be that I would love to originate a role one day.