Ipswich actor a Jersey Boy at heart
ASK any struggling performer about working in the entertainment industry and they will tell you it's a tough nut to crack.
That's not the case for Ipswich's Glaston Toft, who is returning to the Brisbane stage when Jersey Boys opens in January.
For the former Bremer State High School student, it will be a continuation of a long association with the show, which began in 2009. All up, Toft estimates he has done the show between 1400 and 1500 times.
Jersey Boys tells the true-life story of four guys from the wrong side of the tracks, and the rise to stardom of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.
The band sold more than 175 million records and were inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame for their hits, including Can't Take My Eyes Off You, Walk Like a Man, Bye Bye Baby, Sherry and Big Girls Don't Cry, which all feature in the musical.
Toft, 34, said it was a strange experience returning to a show that he'd done so many times before.
"I first did Jersey Boys in 2009 and that allowed me to work pretty solidly over four years with the odd break when it moved cities, and then it shut down," Glaston said. "I did some other shows, but now they've brought it back I was more than happy to jump back on board.
"I guess the show evolves over time, you want to keep it fresh, as it's a living thing. You want to find the truth every night plus you're playing off the audiences energy. I think it's fair to say more that it doesn't evolve, but it lives, if that makes sense. It's live theatre, which is a living thing."
Glaston says despite playing the role so many times, he enjoys what he does, and it is reflected in the way the audiences reacts to it.
"Jersey Boys is never boring, as all of us have a chance to narrate our own version of what happened, and we talk directly to the audience. Most of the songs are played to a concert format, as if the audience is watching the band live," he said. "That's one of the great things about the show in that the audience feel like we are talking directly to them, they get involved.
"It was really a funny experience going back to the show. I didn't look at the script too much before rehearsals started, because in a way I wanted to discover it on the floor and when it started there were things I didn't remember but it quickly came back.
Glaston says living away from his wife and children is hard, but that's the life of a performer.
"It is a strange life, living three months at a time in one place, as my wife and two kids are back in Melbourne," Glaston said. "Being on the road is hard, but it's something you learn. You get a greater understanding of what the real band went through in the '60s, there was no Skype or mobile phones then, and its much easier to retain relationships now.
"I go home as often as I can, and it's always good to come back to southeast Queensland. I love what I do, and it's just part of the job. Many families are like that, and you can't say someone doing a FIFO (Fly In Fly Out) job does it any differently, it's just a different type of parenting. I guess you can look at the positives and negatives, but when I get home everyone's happy to see me, then I simply be the best parent I can be. It's often tiring, but so rewarding."
The story of the Four Seasons is the backbone of Jersey Boys, and has enough scandal in it to make a great movie, warts and all.
"If there was one clear reason why Jersey Boys has stayed so popular, then every show would copy that formula, so there is no one clear reason," Glaston said. "A lot of the music is timeless and there's such a wide variety of it...'60s, disco, the rock ballad stuff. It was such a diverse catalogue for one group. Their story was unknown at the time, yes they were popular, but nobody cared about them, it was all about The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The band got into a lot of drama and mischief, including stints in and out of prison, they even got involved with the mob.
"Their story is really dramatic and it was at a time when it could have ruined their careers. You'd have to keep that kind of stuff away from the media now, but then nobody cared, they just like the music."
Glaston left school at the end of Year 11 to spend his last year at a private school which allowed him to focus on arts and drama. Leaving all his school friends behind was a tough decision to make, but ultimately paid off.
"I went to Bremer in Ipswich then went to West Moreton Anglican College for Year 12," Glaston said. "It was awful leaving all my friends, and looking back yes it was tough, but in the end it paid off and was the right decision.
"All my family is still in Ipswich. It's my home, I grew up there, there's something about coming back every time I just feel comfortable."
Jersey Boys opens in January for a limited season. Get tickets at qpac.com.au
Your chance to win
We're giving one lucky reader the chance to win a double pass to the opening night of Jersey Boys at QPAC.
The winner will walk the red carpet with other guests and enjoy a double pass to the exclusive opening night after party with the cast of Jersey Boys, plus a drink voucher on arrival at QPAC and a Jersey Boys merchandise pack.
They'll be treated to one night's accommodation at Stamford Plaza Brisbane and a $1000 Flight Centre travel voucher.
There are 25 double passes up for grabs. Head to qt.com.au /competitions. The competition closes December 20.