Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 46 / 16 November 2017
 

Daniel Reichard

Cabaret

The Jersey Boy and Midtown Man sings holiday classics


Daniel Reichard and friend. Dirty Sugar Photography
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He's the kind of man some mothers wish we would bring home for the holidays; sharp-dressed, clean-cut, and his versions of seasonal classics will brighten any gathering.

A star of the original 2005 Broadway production of Jersey Boys (the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons), has also been performing as part the vocal group Midtown Men, a talented male quartet that includes Jersey Boys actor-singers whose suits are as dashing as their stage presence.

Lucky New Yorkers may have seen Reichard's popular holiday concerts at Joe's Pub, 54 Below, Birdland and other venues, or got a chance to see Reichard's 2003 portrayal of gay artist Keith Haring in the musical Radiant Baby, along with earlier roles in Forbidden Broadway and Forever Plaid.

Now, Bay Area fans can enjoy a personal holiday concert by Reichard at Feinstein's at the Nikko on December 11. We chatted via email as the actor-singer was preparing for his trip, and his continuing tour with The Midtown Men.

Jim Provenzano: You've starred on Broadway and now you're doing another edition of your intimate holiday-themed show. What was the inspiration for the holiday concerts?

Daniel Reichard: Well, I actually started doing my holiday show while I was in the original Jersey Boys on Broadway as a creative outlet while appearing eight shows a week as Bob Gaudio. This year, I'm presenting my ninth Christmas show in The Big Apple, and I got so excited writing it that I decided to bring it to the west coast for one night at Feinstein's.

We will play my hometown of Cleveland for two nights as well. Let's face it, the end of this year has been such a frenzy of negativity, fear, and sadness for so many people.

There's the old Jerry Herman lyric, "We need a little Christmas, right this very minute." With this show, I wanted to go back to basics and remind myself what I love about the season: the nostalgia, the music, the storytelling, and the hopefulness. 

 

Many of us have mixed memories of the holidays and singing. I remember being in a very unintentionally silly grade school Nativity show. Were you in any wonderful or awful holiday musical performances as a kid?

I think we all have mixed memories of the holidays in general, and yes, the childhood pageants are very vivid memories for me. I come from a huge family with eight brothers and sisters, and dozens and dozens of cousins. Every year, my family reunites in Cleveland, and of course, there will be the annual Christmas play, recreating the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. My pinnacle performance was playing a very flamboyant archangel Gabriel, who was one half Liberace and the other half a professional wrestler. I was an interesting kid.

 

Daniel Reichard singing in the Midtown Men show.

Are there any holiday songs you hated as a kid that you now like to perform?

Wow, that's a great question. I don't think so. If anything, it's the opposite, really. There are songs like "Frosty the Snowman" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" that I liked as a child, and I really don't care for those ones at all anymore. 

 

Which song do you most get requests for at holiday gatherings?

My renditions of "Winter Wonderland" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" are becoming very popular, as they really reveal my personality. They are on my little holiday album, Daniel Reichard's Under the Mistletoe. My family, though, loves when I sing the classics like "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and "O Holy Night." 

 

Is your Guide to Christmas show different than the holiday and Feinstein's shows?

I would like to think that my shows are different, because I am not afraid to show who I am during them. I'm not trying to be anyone else or like anything else. I'm presenting my very own personal nightclub act. This is not simply a cabaret show, presenting songs and stories. It is a full act with a through line; an emotional, musical, and spiritual journey. And I try to be funny...try!

 

Daniel Reichard (left) with the original cast of Jersey Boys in 2005.

After playing Keith Haring in the musical Radiant Baby , did you end up with any Keith Haring art or memorabilia?

My apartment in New York City has Keith Haring wallpaper, and art all over it. The most valuable memorabilia I have was given to me by the head of his foundation, the inspiring Julia Gruen, after the show closed: a real Haring paintbrush with paint on it. I love it. 

 

You're performing a lot with the Midtown Men, next in January in New York City at B.B. King Blue Club & Grill. Any unusual tour tales?

That's a whole other story: We're on our seventh consecutive tours (We've yet to play San Francisco) with over 600 concerts to our resume. We've produced and recorded two albums and two PBS specials. We are all over the place, and it has taught me so much about the country. We've met so many nice people and literally sung in hundreds of cities so we've seen what America is made up of. 

 

Your native city Cleveland, Ohio was recently voted one of the best cities to live in. And you're performing a holiday show there. What do you like to do when you return to Cleveland? Family time?

The Reichard family is intense. We have my parents, my many siblings and spouses, nineteen nieces and nephews and counting, and now some dogs. The frustrating part is that it's so chaotic at Christmas that it's hard to get quality time with each other, but we all do our best. I think it's best to do things over the holidays with your family: go to movies, play games, go out to eat, go to a bar, take walks. We always get along better when there's more going on.

At his apartment's piano, Daniel Reichard with Keith Haring wallpaper.

Have you ever brought a partner home for a holiday dinner? How did that go?

Yes. I think the key to successfully bringing your significant other home to your family is to strive for that balance of being both attentive and relaxed. You don't want to force people to get along. You have to let the dynamics play themselves out. Just the same, you have to be sensitive and realize it's a gift to share your family and main squeeze all at the same time. Just act natural, dammit!

 

How are you planning to make the yuletide gay?

I love watching my favorite movies, It's a Wonderful Life, Home Alone, listen to my favorite albums, John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together and A Charlie Brown Christmas to name a few, and besides doing my holiday shows, connect with my amazing friends and appreciate the gift of living.

I don't think of the holiday season as the end of the year. I think of it as the time to renew my spirit of love, compassion, and hope for the year ahead. 

 

Daniel Reichard performs at Feinstein's at the Nikko, December 11, 7pm. $20-$50 ($20 food/drink min.). Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St. www.danielreichard.com www.feinsteinsatthenikko.com










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