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‘Oh, What a Night’: Rocky River native and original Jersey Boy to give heartfelt performance at fundraiser

By Sue Botos

Westshore

“Born and raised in Rocky River,” Daniel Reichard, original member of the Broadway cast of “Jersey Boys,” recently recalled that entertaining has been in his blood since about age 3. “I used to get up on the dinner table on summer nights and sing and make everyone listen to me, whether they wanted to or not,” he said with a laugh. Attendees will get a taste of that talent (on stage, not on the table) when Reichard headlines the 2014 Cleveland Heart & Stroke Ball on June 14 at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel.

“My family, like so many others, has had very challenging medical histories as far as heart (trouble),” Reichard said during a phone interview from his New York home. The eighth of nine children, Reichard said that he respects the work of the American Heart Association, which is sponsoring the event along with the American Stroke Association, and the impact it has had on lives.

With these thoughts in mind, Reichard, a graduate of St. Ignatius High School, couldn’t help but agree to appear at the Heart & Stroke Ball when longtime friend, fellow Clevelander and event organizer Erin Lang invited him.

“Erin wrote and asked me if I would be interested in hosting the Heart Ball. I agreed, if I was available, and set aside June 14 on my schedule,” he recalled.

Lang commented via e-mail, “I asked Daniel to do this benefit because it’s personal to him. He relates to our mission and his family has been personally touched by heart disease and stroke. Also, over the past 20 + years, I’ve seen Danny perform a million times and he is one of the most talented people I know.”

Reichard said that he and Lang then brainstormed about including a concert as part of the evening. “Adding the concert component to the Heart & Stroke Ball is a first!” Lang explained. “I’ve been with the AHA for over a year now, and I wanted to do something that’s different. There were so many wonderful galas in town and, unfortunately, they all have the same program format. I wanted to shake things up and make it memorable for our supporters.”

“I always dreamed, as a child and young teenager, of being a comedic actor, like a Saturday Night Live performer. I idolized Steve Martin,” Reichard reminisced, adding that it was a teacher at St. Ignatius who helped him realize his talent. “Father Ray Guiao coached me in singing to get me ready for the audition for the University of Michigan School of Music,” he said, adding that college was “an incredible time for me. It was a great school experience and set me on my way to the Big Apple and my career.”

After about 10 years of doing some “really cool” off-Broadway and regional theater work, Reichard caught the eye of the producer for the original production of “Jersey Boys,” the story of the 1960s singing group The Four Seasons. In 2004, he was cast as Bob Gaudio.

“Everything about that show just changed my life. I was very blessed to have had that opportunity come to me,” Reichard said, noting that his role featured him singing and playing “Oh, What a Night” on the piano.

But after 1,000 Broadway performances, he and his fellow Jersey Boys, Christian Hoff, Michael Langoria and J. Robert Spencer, wanted to weave their own stories into the music, and formed the Midtown Men.

“This is our spinoff of ‘Jersey Boys.’ It tells the stories of our lives together and on the road,” Reichard explained. Aside from Four Seasons numbers, he said the foursome does tunes by The Beach Boys, the Beatles, Motown artists and other acts from that era. “I would say Midtown Men has been the most fun because we did it ourselves. A lot of work and sacrifice went into it, but it’s something we did together.”

After spending so much time together in “Jersey Boys,” Reichard laughed when asked if the quartet is in harmony off stage as well as on. “We do get along, but it’s a lot like being in a marriage. It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”

Reichard noted that his fellow Midtown Men were joining him for a rehearsal after his interview. The group was continuing on a tour that would climax with a performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra.

But for now, Clevelanders’ only chance to hear at least one Jersey Boy will be at the Heart & Stroke Ball. Tickets for the full event are $300 per person, $500 per couple and $100 for the concert only. Call 216-619-5158 or contact Erin Lang at erin.lang@heart.org.

 

 

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