In recent weeks Hayden Milanes has been working hard on his voice, on hitting those soaring high notes like a soprano yet retaining a gritty edginess. Why?
Because “sounding like Frankie is an acquired skill,” Milanes said in a telephone interview.
The Florida-born Milanes sings the role of Frankie Valli, lead singer of the Four Seasons, in the “Jersey Boys” tour that will sweep into the Scranton Cultural Center from Feb. 4-16 as part of the Broadway Theatre League Series.
Portraying Valli from a teenager to his ‘60s, he gets a chance to sing such hits as “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “My Eyes Adored You” and “Walk Like a Man,” all songs that made Valli’s distinctive sound part of popular culture.
“The beautiful thing about Frankie is he was born with sound in his voice naturally,” Milanes said. “He’s one of a kind.”
Milanes has had to work on it, but his voice does have some natural similarities to Valli’s as far as range.
“I’m a baritenor,” he said. “That’s a crossbreed, a baritone that can sing tenor voice. I’ve always had a soprano kind of sound to my voice.”
So falsetto notes aren’t too hard for Milanes to hit.
But there’s more to “Jersey Boys” than music.
“We show all the life experiences that these guys go through. It shows Frankie’s growth as a man, his actions and his choices. It tells the truth about how these guys had connections with the mob and with the state prison. They were involved with crime, but against all of those odds they became one of the most well-known, famous bands.
“Sometimes you can get a little skeptical with marketing, when you hear about crowds going wild. But it’s true. It’s a well-received show,” Milanes noted, explaining audiences don’t wait until the end of the show to give standing ovations.
Valli himself is “very hands on with the story,” Milanes said. “This is his baby. I’ve had the honor of meeting him, and it’s an honor to portray him.”