When nineteen-year-old podcaster Erich Bergen settled into his seat at Broadway’s recently renamed August Wilson Theatre in late 2005, he was not hopeful for the show that was about to unfold in front of him. He told vulture.com, “I thought I was going to hate it. It was just coming off Lennon and Good Vibrations, these jukebox-musical bombs.” Little did he know that a year later he’d be opening the national tour of the very same show not far from the future Feinstein’s at the Nikko.
Despite your anticipated resistance, you had quite an unexpected decade with Jersey Boys.
Jersey Boys has been very, very good to me and we’re hitting this sort of, you know, transition. Jersey Boys is closing down around the world. Vegas is closing down and I was there for that and now Broadway’s gonna close in January. I’m very grateful to Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli and all the Jersey Boys fans. And it all started for me in San Francisco. San Francisco is where my career started. I will always say that. So I am always so grateful to come back.
Talk about your relationship with San Francisco.
I launched the Jersey Boys tour exactly ten years ago this month at the Curran – my knees just started to ache as I said that – and lived there right near Union Square for six months, then came back for the Anything Goes tour. I adore San Francisco. It has this magical effect on me. I think it has the effect on me that some people feel when they come to New York City the first time. I just adore it. I think more than anything else, it’s the people. The people are very, very hip, very kind…very appreciative of art.
Very tech savvy, too. Describe your social media life.
I’m not great at it. I wish I was funnier. I wish I was wittier. I’m always scared of alienating people so I don’t wanna say certain things. I don’t love it, which is funny because people tell me, “Whaddya mean, you don’t love it? You’re on it every second.” It’s addictive and it’s needed to survive in this business., but I like artists having mystery. I just miss the days where artists would vanish for a minute and then come back with something new.
You’re a New Year’s Eve baby. Is that a score or does it suck?
Sucks. It’s a terrific thing in terms of a talking point. It’s really fun, you know, to say and it’s a cool thing and you get to share your birthday with some fun people like Donna Summer and Bebe Neuwirth. But…in terms of planning a birthday event, it’s the worst. You wanna talk about depression? Talk to me on my birthday on New Year’s Eve when there’s no one to hang out with. It’s not like your birthday is just any random day but it’s in the middle of the week and you can’t get people to go out. No no no, on my birthday, everyone’s going out to party, they’re just not going out to party for me.
What’s special for you about appearing in concert?
It’s about meeting people’s expectations of what you’re going to do, then adding, “Oh, and one more thing. This is one of my favorite songs. I hope it’s also one of yours.” That’s my approach. The reason why we connect with songs is so we don’t feel alone, that there’s someone else out there who is feeling the exact same way. You didn’t have to write the song, it already exists. So, I feel that I’m there as the ultimate fan of music. I always take the approach of, “Wait ‘til you guys hear this.”