As a music writer and photographer, sometimes you meet and speak with people who pass in and out of your life like lightning. You smile, say hello, and get down to the business of interview and BAM they are gone and mostly forgotten. Rarely, and on very special occasions, you speak with someone whose personality leaps forward. You un-objectively get “attached” to them, and you end up following their career a little closer, cheering for them a little harder, and well, becoming a fan.
Monday night, at around six pm, my heart broke just a little. Joseph Leo Bwarie posted a short video, as he often does on his Facebook page. In it, he let all of his fans know the curtain will come down on his final performance of Jersey Boys following the 3PM matinee on April the 24th. It’s the end of an era. This dynamo of a performer has played Frankie Valli since 2007. He has traveled all around the world bringing his version of the Four Season’s sound to millions of people. There’s a reason he stuck with this show as long as he did, and I do not for a second believe it was money.
I had the honor through sheer happenstance to see this man on Broadway. To be fair, I originally wanted to see a different show, but my friend insisted this was the show to see. I joke that I was dragged kicking and screaming into the theater, and then kicking and screaming out of it. The moment that Joseph took the stage I was captivated. Not just because of his voice but the emotion and dedication he exudes with every note. Six times a week this man sings in a strikingly accurate falsetto, twenty seven songs. This was his role from the beginning, albeit it took him a moment to catch up to it. (He didn’t audition until the show was in production, but he was immediately cast.) Not to discredit any of the fine performers who have played this role, but for me he is the ONLY Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys.
In the video entitled A million thanks and 30 chances, named for the number of performances left for him, he gives a wonderful heart felt “bye bye baby” to all of his fans. At one point in the farewell video his voice cracks just a bit, perhaps a sign of sentimentality. He lightens the news a little by commenting in a line from the show “ ‘ the soaps keep getting smaller and smaller’ but let’s face it, I use body wash”. He cited the comment from the show that “it’s a rollercoaster and eventually you have to get off”. As one of the millions of people who have seen him, I have to say it was a great ride and a thrill to be a small part of it. I’m sure we will see much more of him in the future. I’m sure this is not his last stint on Broadway by any means. I hope to catch up with him very soon with a follow up interview about what is next for this amazing talent.
You can read my interview with Joesph here.
Written by Belinda Glass Reedy