The Fame Reporter interviewed the charismatic and insanely talented Australian actor, Ryan Gonzalez who is currently portraying one of history’s greatest performers, Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys at QPAC.
Ryan Gonzalez graduated from Brent Street’s Talent Development High School and full-time Certificate IV course in 2011. Musical theatre: Kinky Boots (Angel); Strictly Ballroom the Musical (Wayne Burns/understudy Scott Hastings); King Kong Live on Stage; Legally Blonde; and Violet (Virgil).
Other stage credits: Opera Australia’s Carmen; Trevor Ashley’s Starstruck; and contemporary dance production Tannos and Choice. Feature film: Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby; George Miller’s Happy Feet 2; and Goddess. Dance: The ACCTA Awards; Sydney Festival’s Trocadero; Aria Awards; X-Factor; and So You Think You Can Dance Australia. Awards: Broadway World Sydney Awards “Best Cabaret Performer” for ¡Hispanic Attack!.
We talked to Ryan about his reaction when he landed the role in the infamous musical, what Frankie Valli has taught him, his Founding Father dream role and more.
See our interview below!
Welcome to The Fame Reporter Ryan, what was it that sparked your interest in performing/musical theatre initially?
My parents put me into dancing as a young kid and I enjoyed a lot of Disney films, so I think from there my parents thought it would be a perfect fit to take me to a musical.
I saw ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney was I was around 11 years old and I remember from that point thinking “woah you can dance sing and act all in one show. I want to do that” and from that point on, I wanted nothing else. I immersed myself into it and haven’t looked back.
What was your experience like training at Brent Street and how did that experience affect your current career progression?
I think training at Brent Street was incredible for me. I had a lot of passion, but not a lot much else. So I got pushed really hard by the other dancers I trained with, and started to learn from them and reach their level of talent and ability. I think that environment taught me a lot.
It definitely taught me that you can never stop learning.
What was your reaction when you heard you got cast as the legendary Frankie Valli?
I was beside myself. He is Iconic. The voice. The catalogue of hits. It’s still just too good to be true. It definitely was a dream role for me and something I thought I could never do. It means a lot for me to be performing in it now, and also with this incredible cast.
What is your favourite scene or number in Jersey Boys?
I have to say “My eyes adored you”. It’s the first time we can see how emotionally strangled Frankie is in act one. He has quite the personal journey throughout the show, but losing his relationship with his wife, who he loves incredibly, is almost a stopping point for him. The brakes get slammed on and he’s left there by himself to mourn a relationship he always thought he would have.
What was it like playing the iconic role of Wayne Burns for the brand-new musical Strictly Ballroom?
Wayne Burns was awesome. I was lucky to step into the role and takeover on the second half of the tour. He was almost evil in our Australian Production, he was a lot of fun and definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed. My favourite thing about the role would have to be the RED wig. I was in heaven wearing that wig.
Do you have a role in any musical theatre or straight theatre piece that you are dying to play?
At the moment, I can’t seem to steer myself away from Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton. It’s such an incredible show and What. A. Role!
What has playing Frankie Valli taught you so far?
Frankie is a very complex, a haunted man, with an incredible career spanning over decades. He is a serious legend. No one can deny that. But I think what I have learnt from playing him is how important relationships are.
His relationship with his band is an ultimate blood-brothers bond. They’re unbreakable and they became each others family. Even when his Page 1 of 3 mentor puts the group into trouble and massive amounts of debt, Frankie has to step in and almost take the blow for the mistakes Tommy has made.
There is so much to learn from this mateship and much that I want to take with me from the show and into normal life.
What performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with?
Definitely Frankie Valli. Lin-Manuel Miranda. Sara Bareilles. Prince. Lianne La Havas.
What do you love about film and would you like to do more in the future?
What I love about film is the ability of feeling like you are living inside the story. It is an immediate escape away from the world. Much like theatre.
But I do have to say theatre is more of an exhilarating experience, whereas film is more immediate and has a stronger emotional attachment for me.
I would love to pursue a role in a film if it was the right role, for sure.
But I definitely think my favourite way to perform is onstage, with an immediate response from the audience.
What do you hope audiences take away from ‘Jersey Boys’?
I hope audiences fall in love with the music and the four boys.
I think the performances in the show are incredible and definitely a reason to see the show this time around.
But I also hope they leave with a little more knowledge about the band and about the incredible true story of their lives. I don’t think you could try to write a more riveting story. This is all true and it’s such a privilege to be able to tell this story every night.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to have a career in musical theatre or performing?
It think the most important thing I have learnt whilst being in the industry is being as good at everything that you can be. The musical theatre industry is so diverse. Playing an instrument, being a drag queen, rapping, flamenco dancing. They’re all just as valuable as the other and you never know when that skill will be beneficial. It might be just the right thing you need for an upcoming show. Also something I mentioned before. Never. Stop. Learning.
Fame Reporter Word Play
Jersey boys. (No joke)
Favourite style of dance
Old school 80’s jazz
Swim in every beach I possibly can. Hopefully you have to hike to find them.
Place you want to travel to
The Bogo Pogo
Dream Co-star to work with
A series of unfortunate events
Favourite song in Jersey Boys
Who loves you
Finally, favourite thing about theatre?
Thank-you for joining us at The Fame Reporter. We wish you all the best for a glorious season of ‘Jersey Boys’.
Don’t miss Ryan starring as the marvelous Frankie Valli in the incredible biographical musical, Jersey Boys about his life and the famous Four Seasons, now playing in the Lyric Theatre, QPAC until 16 February.
Get your tickets here
Follow Ryan’s adventures on social media here!
All photos – Supplied