Mark Ballas Brings Jersey Boys to Dancing With the Stars

November 8th, 2016

For showstoppers week on Dancing With the Stars, the contestants were assigned songs from Broadway shows.  Marilu Henner and Derek Hough were assigned  Oh What a Night from Jersey Boys.  Performing the song while Henner and Hough danced was former Dancing With the Stars pro Mark Ballas along with Michael Lomenda, Kristofer McNeeley and Adam Zelaskoon.

Later in the show, the Jersey Boys cast returned to perform Sherry.

Mark Ballas Returns to Dancing With the Stars

November 5th, 2016

It's Broadway week at Dancing With the Stars and the couples will be dancing to songs from Broadway musicals.  Mark Ballas, who is currently performing as Frankie Valli in the Jersey Boys, will return to perform while Marilu Henner and Derek Hough dance.

Marilu and Derek will be doing the samba to Oh What a Night from Jersey Boys.  Mark will be performing along with Michael Lomenda, Kristofer McNeeley and Adam Zelaskoon.

Be sure and tune in to watch Mark's return to the show to support his best friend Derek Hough and his partner as they compete for a spot in the semi finals.

Broadway's Jersey Boys Share Acoustic Warm Up

October 22nd, 2016

The Four Seasons cast from the Broadway show includes Mark Ballas as Frankie Valli, Drew Seeley as Bob Gaudio,  Nicholas Dromand as Tommy DeVito, and  Matt Bogart and Nick Massi.  Listen as they share an acoustic version of the classic Four Seasons song "Sherry"

Episode 1 — Walk Like a Man: Backstage at JERSEY BOYS with Mark Ballas

October 19th, 2016

Mark Ballas share behind the scenes footage of his Jersey Boys adventure.

BWW Interview - Debut of the Month - Mark Ballas on Being JERSEY BOYS' Final Frankie Valli

October 17th, 2016

by Caryn Robbins

The producers of the Tony, Grammy & Olivier Award-Winning Best Musical Jersey Boysrecently announced that the Broadway production will end its record-breaking, 11-year run on Sunday, January 15, 2017 after 4,642 performances at theAugust WilsonTheatre. In addition, it was revealed that "Dancing with the Stars" superstar Mark Ballas will be the final actor to take on the iconic role of 'Frankie Valli,' making his Broadway debut in the show on October 18th and continuing in the role through the end of it's historic run.

Today, the quadruple threat (that's right, he's a musician too!) speaks with BWW about what it means to make his Broadway debut in a show that has held a special place in his heart since the time he was a little boy!

[NOTE: BroadwayWorld's fabulous photographer Walter McBride captures images of the Broadway stars profiled in our monthly column in a special photo shoot. Check out the pics of Mark Ballas throughout the feature!]

I understand you've been a huge fan of Jersey Boys for a long time and have seenBWW Interview - Debut of the Month - Mark Ballas on Being JERSEY BOYS' Final Frankie Vallimultiple productions of it over the years.

I have yes. I saw it a few times when it opened in the West End, I've seen it in Vegas a couple of times, and I've seen it on Broadway a couple of times too. So I've been a huge fan of the show.

What was it about the show that caught your attention initially and ultimately turned you into such a fan?

Well in general, I've been a musical theater fan and done musical theater myself since I was a kid, that's what started me in entertainment. I have a diploma in musical theater. And it's always been something I've been passionate about and have loved. And I've seen so many musicals, that was always a thing we would do as a family, go see a show every now and again. And I grew up with the music of The Four Seasons, my grandfather used to love them, as well as the music of groups like the Four Freshman. So that kind of music was big in our house, we'd listen to a lot of '50's stuff.

So as far as Jersey Boys, first of all, I think the music is timeless, and it's amazing, it's just one hit after another. I remember the first time I saw it I didn't realize that. I was like, 'man, all these songs are them?' You know, you just forget how many great songs they had. And then on top of that, the story is so compelling, it's so raw and real. I think when you see most musicals there's all this kind of glitz and glam to the production, but with this, it has edge and soul and heart and turmoil. You really see the ups and downs of these guys and where they came from. And I kind of relate to that because my mother's side of the family is from Liverpool in England, which is kind of blue collar, so it's a smilar background in that way. And then on top of that, the choreography is so well done and so interesting, and so specific, so that's kind of the icing on the cake. The guys move so well, Sergio's [Trujillo] done an incredible job, Des' [McAnuff] direction is incredible, so it's just bulletproof for me.


You mentioned the choreography. How does the dancing in Jersey Boys differ from the ballroom dancing that we see on "Dancing With the Stars"?

Oh, it's a completely different thing, you can't really compare the two. It's doo-wop, but at the same time, it's very precise. There's no room to take liberties. I am there to play Frankie Valli, not to put a little extra something into it, you know. So even if I can probably do five turns, I'm only going to do two. I am here to play Frankie and get that character down, and move like the three other guys, and that's been the coolest part, to make the four of us identical in our movements. And I'm playing the Italian kid from Jersey. So even though my dad's side is hispanic, my mom's side is British, and I've grown up around dancers and musicians my whole life, none of that flare can be put into it, it has to be authentic, and I love that. It's very different for me and I'm really enjoying it.

I understand that Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli were involved in your casting. What was that experience like?

It was awesome! You know I've wanted to do this show for years, for years. Moving to LA and pursuing a television career really came out of the blue. I had just finished doing the Buddy Holly musical in London, I had done JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, COPACABANA and I was about to do WE WILL ROCK YOU in the West End, DIRTY DANCING in the West End, or FOOTLOOSE, those were the three shows I was about to go into. And then 'Dancing' came up and I was like, 'oh, I've never been to LA before, why not?' And that wound up turning into a nine year thing! And I got to the point where I kind of wanted to use that diploma I got in musical theater.

So when I heard they were re-casting Frankie Valli, I asked my representation, 'please, put me up for that, I would love to go in.' And I wanted to audition like everyone else, and I did audition like everybody else. I had to get through three rounds of auditioning, and after the third round they said, 'the final thing is that we have to send your tapes to Bob and Frankie', because they had filmed me in the audition room in New York. So I left the audition and was about to fly back to LA, and I remember I was sitting on the plane, on the runway waiting to take off and my phone rang. And I picked it up and they were calling to tell me that I got the role, and it was awesome. And it was funny because the flight attendant was like, 'sir you have to turn your phone off now,' and I was like, 'two minutes please, just two minutes!' So it was an incredible feeling.

Frankie Valli's falsetto is of course so iconic. Was singing in falsetto something you have always been comfortable with?

I  actually have a really sharp falsetto, that's something that I've had since I was a kid. I was a high tenor in the choir, so luckily it's been one of the easier aspects of taking on this role. The stuff we've been working on vocally is getting those high chest notes while doing the choreography at the same time. Because let me tell you, you sweat man! These moves may look sharp and simple, but it's a lot, and you've got to get used to it. But when it comes to the falsetto, luckily I've been blessed in that area.

Do you have a favorite number from the show or is it just too hard to chose?

It's really hard to chose, but I'd say 'Sherry' and 'Big Girl' never get old for me. I love doing 'Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You' as well, that song has always been special to me and my family. They're all fun. I love doo-wop and '50's rock n roll too and 60's music, so for me, all the songs are awesome. 'Rag Doll', 'Who Loves You', it's just hard to chose. And every day is different!

Do you think that wonderful music is the reason the show resonates with audiences all over the world?

I do. What's great about the show is that you have the generation who grew up on the music of The Four Seasons, and they just lose themselves in the show. It's kind of like The Beatles to some people, or Michael Jackson to some people, they grew up on it. They know these songs, they remember where they were when they first heard them, they remember jumping up and down on their bed singing 'Sherry' and throwing teddy bears at each other. And back then, The Four Seasons were considered the bad boys of music, their music was cool, it was different, so all the women still go nuts when they hear it today.

But then at the same time, you have the younger audience members, who maybe had never listened to that music, but even if you didn't grow up listening to it,the songs are so good they just get you anyway. And then on top of that, you're watching this very compelling story about a singer who is trying to keep it all together, who thinks he's doing the right thing even though  he's never home, he doesn't see his kids, he never sees his wife. But at the same time, there is this underlying love among the four of them, a sense of family and loyalty. So the story has amazing highs, amazing lows. It's also very tragic, what Frankie goes through in the show is unbelievable, and I think everyone can relate to that. And of course the music is incredible. So I think that's really what it is. Whether you're a fan of The Four Seasons or not, you're going to walk away with those songs in your mind, those melodies are gonna get to you!

Is there a chance you may return to DANCING WITH THE STARS in the future?

Well I'm jusT Loving this right now. I did nine years of DANCING WITH THE STARS, nine incredible years that I loved and would never take back, I had some amazing times. But I turned 30 this year, so it's like a new page and new step and for right now, in this particular moment in time, I'm just solely focused on this. I've just really been working on perfecting my craft, working hard on the music, spending a lot of time on the choreography, learning the script and really giving it meaning, so it's hard to say. I wouldn't rule it out, but I don't have a crystal ball at the same time, so we'll see. I learned a couple of years ago to really embrace the now, because I don't know what tomorrow's going to be, so that's what I'm doing. I have no future thoughts, I'm just trying to really live in this moment and take it all in.

What do you think it will be like to make your Broadway debut in Jersey Boys tomorrow night?

Well I did my photo shoot on stage with the full cast the other night, so I was in my costume and it was very cool to stand on that stage. You know this has been a dream of mine for a long time, to be able to be seen as a musician and an actor first. That was actually something I wasdoing for a long time before I went out to LA. So this change of pace, this kind of moving back to my first true love, it's just a huge honor. And being on that stage for the first time and achieving that goal and knowing that I worked hard for it is going to make that debut on October 18th even more special. And I can't wait to get out there!

Emmy-nominated Mark Ballas is a multifaceted entertainer. For the past 18 seasons, he has captivated more than 20 million viewers per week on ABC's hit show "Dancing with the Stars." He is a two-time champion, nine-time finalist and he earned a 2011 Emmy nomination for his work on the show. He choreographed Pepsi's Super Bowl commercial starring Sofía Vergara & the Oscar commercial for Shonda Rhimes' "The Catch." In the U.K., Mark appeared in the national tour of Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story and took the lead role of Tony, Off West End, in Copacabana. He also played Judas, Off West End, in Jesus Christ Superstar and Benjamin in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Mark currently performs in the duo Alexander Jean with fiancée BC Jean. The team's single "Roses and Violets" and debut EP "Head High" both debuted at #1 on iTunes' Singer/Songwriter chart. They have recently completed a 20 date U.S. tour. Mark is also an accomplished flamenco and electric guitar player. He was trained at The Italia Conti Performing Arts School in London.

Broadway Spotlight: Interview with Mark Ballas

October 2nd, 2016

By Michael Menachem for New York City Monthly

Emmy-nominated choreographer, dancer, musician, and actor Mark Ballas is probably best known for his nine years and 18 seasons on Dancing With The Stars, but many do not know he has a music background (duo Alexander Jean with fiancee BC Jean) and that he was trained as a musical theater performer in London. Mark was born in Texas but spent his formative years growing up in London, performing and studying the arts and later winning awards with dance partner Julianne Hough years before either would earn prime time fame.

The two-time winner on Dancing With The Stars (with Olympians Kristi Yamaguchi and Shawn Johnson) is stepping into the iconic role of Frankie Valli in the final run of Jersey Boys, starting October 18 and officially closing January 15, 2017 with Ballas acting as the final bookend portraying the legendary The Four Seasons front man. With Ballas’ Broadway debut he has big shoes to fill; however given his expansive background in various shows, television, and music, he is poised for a new career-changing challenge. Mark spoke with New York City Monthly about what “Dancing” has taught him about show business, how he looks forward to spending more time in New York, and the true honor it is to debut on Broadway and leave his mark on this record-breaking Tony and Grammy-winning musical…

How did this opportunity come up and what was the process like from the first discussion to making the big announcement – to play the final Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys?

I’ve been a fan of Jersey Boys since it came out. I saw it on the West End, Broadway and in Las Vegas. In the off-season we heard they needed a new Frankie. They didn’t call me for this, I did the audition, I did the acting, sing- ing and dancing call and I ended up booking the gig on my own merit. In all reality, to be in a show like this it doesn’t matter if you’ve been on television, you’ve gotta be able to sing the songs and hit the notes. I auditioned like everyone else and I’m super proud to be the final Frankie in the last run.

You have already seen Jersey Boys, but did you ever think of yourself in the show when you saw it previously and is Broadway something you’ve had your eye on for a while?

Absolutely. It’s been a dream of mine since I first saw it. A lot of friends of mine and teachers and people who know me vocally and the kind of music I’m into thought this was perfect for me. I’m a high tenor, I’m the same height. One of my friends from the UK sent me an interview I did, an article when I was 22 and I said one of my answers was playing Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys.

You created a stir for 18 seasons on Dancing With The Stars with an impressive roster of partners. Getting to work with so many different personalities, is there anything that you might have taken with you over the years that will help your Jersey Boys portrayal?

Absolutely, I think the thing with Dancing With The Stars is I’ve remained the same person from start to finish but every season I learn something new from my partner and I learn how to push them or lay off here. One person may take to instructing in a different way than someone else. Learning how to adapt and to read and figure out the puzzle of how am I going to get someone from the start to the finish line and turn them into or make them look like a dancer for that week is quite a challenge. There’s no experience like that. I think that will be great going intoJersey Boys because I’m going into a whole new cast and show and giving them my energy. I’m really looking forward to working with and learning from a whole new set of professionals.

“Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” is one of the top songs you sing in Jersey Boys. Assuming you’ve been to New York over the years, what are some of the places, landmarks, restaurants, shows you’ve visited that you haven’t been able to take your “eyes off of”?

I love coming to New York. I’m looking forward to spending some more time there and finding my spots. I wouldn’t say I have too many but I’ve been to Tao and Lavo and Buddakan but I’m looking to find more of the hole-in-the-wall places. I’m an old-fashioned whisky drinker. I’ve seen Jesus [Christ Superstar], ChicagoWickedLes MisThe Wild Party. I’d really like to check out Hamilton, I’ve seen Something Rotten!, I’ve got a friend in Kinky Boots.

Jersey Boys is now the 12th-longest running musical of all time on Broadway. With all of your entertainment background, professional dance talents and charisma, what do you hope your legacy will be during the final performances to make the crowd literally sing “Oh, What A Night” on their way out?

I think it’s just going to be my interpretation. The thing I love already from Jersey Boys is they don’t want you to recreate something that’s already been done by John Lloyd Young or Dominic Scaglione Jr., they want you to be your own version. I’m looking to find that youthfulness and that younger Frankie and then when he loses his daughter and then he runs into debt, seeing that dark shift pertaining to the character but also bringing the light to the show, the happiness. I will be bringing my own twist on the live performance, with a different kind of swag. Anyone who has followed me this long on the show knows I am theatrical, I go big, and I pay attention to every detail. I hope to bring the crowd to their feet every single night and I know I will give it 200%.