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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Backstage secrets from the Jersey Boys musical

Posted: 23 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Staging a big production like Jersey Boys requires teamwork, precision and synchronisation.

When Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons appear on stage for Jersey Boys the musical, they're slick and impeccably dressed. Not a hair is out of place and not a shirt is creased. That's what the audience sees.

But backstage, it is organised chaos with the wardrobe team darting around frantically, carrying needles, cotton, pins and other accessories to ensure everything is in order. And scampering in darkness requires special skills.

Thankfully, the backstage space at Istana Budaya, where the Jersey Boys musical is currently playing, is spacious enough to avoid the crew bumping into each other or tripping over something during quick costume and scene changes.

To stage this South African production, everything, from the costumes to the flooring, was flown in. Apparently, there are 5,000 single items of costumes for the 199 different character looks for all the understudies, swings and band members.

"The women in the show have 28 wigs between them to portray the different characters while there are eight for the men, plus various moustaches and sideburns. For example, the character, Mary Delgado, played by Taryn-Lee Hudson has a complete costume and wig change that happens before the kitchen scene with Frankie and it has to happen in five seconds," reveals company manager Jill Sommers.

There are 13 backstage crew who tour with the production and at each venue, 15 local crew are brought on board, which include dressers, follow-spotters and flymen. All crew are called in once a week for a maintenance call to keep everything in good working order and prior to every performance, everything is checked over and pre-set for the next performance.

During intermission, unlike audience members who get to stretch their legs and socialise, the cast members are kept busy testing their microphones.

For 'Jersey Boys', all instruments on and off the stage also are checked and tuned prior to the show starting.

For 'Jersey Boys', all instruments on and off the stage also are checked and tuned prior to the show.

Sommers says: "They don't really have time to relax much as there are costume changes to do and possibly changing of the batteries in the mic packs so, unlike the audience, they don't sit for 20 minutes with a nice drink in their hand! As for any major snafus, there's a saying: 'What happens backstage stays backstage'. The audience will never be aware if there has been an error, they will only ever see a slick and professional show."

Unlike athletes and professional soccer teams who have to adhere strictly to a certain diet, the cast are at liberty to follow their own regime.

"As professional performers they take care of their own diets and stay in shape by doing a physical and vocal warm-up prior to the show everyday.

"It is sometimes a challenge for everyone to find their own taste when they visit so many different countries with diverse culinary cultures. To find something from 'home' is often exciting but so is tasting new flavours," says Sommers.

> Jersey Boys is showing at Istana Budaya (Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur) till April 27. Showtimes are 8.30pm nightly with additional 3pm matinees on the weekends. For tickets, go to or call the hotline (03-9222 8811). For more info on the show, visit Jersey Boys is organised by Milestone Production Sdn Bhd. The Star is the gold sponsor and Red FM is the official radio station. 

The Star readers can enjoy a 20% discount in all ticket categories. To do so, key in the promo code: "STAR" when purchasing via or at outlets.


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