On Tuesday, Oct. 10, Monmouth College will host a true “Jersey Boy” in the first Maple Leaf Community Concert Series event of the 2023-24 season, at Dahl Chapel and Auditorium.
Performing appropriately on Broadway (700 E. Broadway, Monmouth), Tony Award-nominee and original “Jersey Boys” star J. Robert Spencer will kick off the season at 7 p.m. in the Auditorium’s Kasch Performance Hall. Individual and membership tickets for the concert series can be purchased at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in downtown Monmouth or at the door.
Titled “7,000 Miles to Broadway,” Spencer’s concert will consist of an eclectic variety of selections — Willie Nelson’s country twang, the smooth crooning sounds of Frank Sinatra and the pop favorites of Frankie Valli, according to a college release.
“The story really revolves around travel,” Spencer said in the release. “It revolves around that car radio. My mom and dad were from the ’50s (and enjoyed) rock ‘n’ roll and country. My sisters were in the ’70s, so they were listening to whatever was on the radio at that time. Then myself, I had my own love for The Beatles, The Monkees, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The show is about my journey from those car rides to making it all the way to Broadway.”
Spencer is best known as Broadway’s original Nick Massi in the Tony Award- and Grammy Award-winning show “Jersey Boys” (2005), with additional credits beyond as an independent film director, producer, writer and singer.
He followed his stint on “Jersey Boys” as the original Dan Goodman in the critically-acclaimed and Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical “Next To Normal.” His performance earned him a 2008-2009 Helen Hayes Award Nomination, and a 2008-2009 Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical.
Since 2011, Spencer has performed in over 700 concerts all over the world with his singing group, “The Midtown Men – Four Original Stars from Broadway’s Jersey Boys.”
The group has toured all over the U.S. and internationally in Italy, Canada, Mexico City, and Beijing. The Midtown Men have produced and recorded several CDs, including a Christmas single written and produced by Stevie Van Zandt. The group recently filmed their concert and a documentary for PBS titled “The Midtown Men – Live in Concert.”
‘A fantastic venue’
Spencer will be the next artist to experience the outstanding acoustics in Dahl Chapel, which is just one of the highlights of the concert series, said MLCCS co-president Stan Jenks, who serves in that role along with Barb Clark.
“Without exception, the artists are blown away by Dahl Chapel,” Jenks said inb the Monmouth release. “They say it’s a fantastic venue and that it ranks right up there with any other venue they’ve performed at. They’re just above the moon about it.”
Jenks was part of the group that helped establish the Maple Leaf Community Concert Series in the early 1990s.
“There was a group of citizens over 30 years ago now who felt it was important to have a concert series that would bring in performers from around the United States,” he said. “They felt it was extremely important for the community, and it’s just been a great opportunity to bring outstanding artists to Monmouth.”
Since its beginning, the series’ organizers have worked hand-in-hand with Monmouth College.
“The college has been spectacular to work with,” said Jenks. “They work so well with us and with scheduling around the dates that our artists can perform. It’s a wonderful example of the College supporting the community.”
The series shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, it’s even hit a higher note recently.
“The last two years, we’ve expanded to have one of the artists offer a matinee, where we bring in students from Immaculate Conception School, Monmouth-Roseville and United,” said Jenks. “The artists perform for the kids, and then there’s an opportunity for the kids to ask questions, like how the performers got into the business. We’re so excited about that.”
That additional performance carries an extra fee, which Jenks said is covered by the United Way of Greater Warren County and the Galesburg Community Foundation.
This season’s lineup
The performing act showcased in this season’s matinee will be The Suits, who will sing in Monmouth Nov. 9. That is the other event of the fall portion of the MLCCS season. The spring dates are March 19, when Rockland Road will perform, and April 16, when Abbacadabra takes the Kasch Performance Hall stage.
The Suits are billed as “four gentlemen, four genres, four decades.” Their mix of music includes doo wop, pop and rock ‘n’ roll. Rockland Road is a family act of six musicians with the surname Martin, spanning four generations. Among them, they play 23 different musical instruments. Abbacadabra is not a magic act – rather, it’s billed as “the ultimate ABBA tribute.”
“Every concert we do is a little different,” said Jenks. “We try to bring enough variety in to entice people. And I tell you what — in 30 years, I’ve never been upset with a concert, and our members agree.”
For more information on Spencer, visit his website HERE.