An evening with the Midtown Men

Brianna Schreurs, Reporter

The Performing Arts Center was filled with ‘doo-wops’ and catchy guitar riffs Sept. 27 as the Midtown Men performed their set of the greatest hits from the ’60s for a full house.

The Midtown Men is comprised of the original Tony-award-winning cast of Broadway’s “Jersey Boys.” Midtown Men includes Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard, J. Robert Spencer and Michael Longoria.

The group was formed after they discovered their love of “the greatest music era” while performing on Broadway. The four men would often meet in each other’s dressing rooms to hash through harmonies of other songs they loved from the ’60s.

For five years, the group has traveled around the country with a live band including brass, entertaining crowds with songs from the Temptations, the Four Seasons, the Beatles and other well-known ’60s artists. The Midtown Men are starting their seventh country-wide tour and this is their first time on the South Dakota State University campus.

“It’s great to be here,” said J. Robert Spencer, one of the Midtown Men. “It’s beautiful here and it’s beautiful in this facility.”

This production was made possible by Woodbine Productions. Woodbine is an SDSU Foundation project sponsored by an anonymous donor. The donor selects the concert lineup each year, according to Dr. David Reynolds, head of the South Dakota State Department of Music.

“We [the SDSU music department] slate the opportunities to the donor,” Reynolds said. “The donor has the final say on the acts.”

Each Woodbine concert ticket sold goes directly into the SDSU music scholarship fund.

“Woodbine has been a game changer for the Department of Music,” Reynolds said. “It doubles the opportunities for talented musicians in South Dakota with scholarships.”

Along with scholarship opportunities, Woodbine Productions offered students a chance to have a meet and greet with the Midtown Men hours before their performance.

This opportunity was unique for music and theatre majors since the concert is sold out, according to Grace Davidson, student intern for Woodbine.

“It’s been hectic and we’re almost sold out for this show,” Davidson said. “This one is exciting because the Midtown Men are the first group to be taken straight from Broadway to concert.”

South Dakotans from across the state have been purchasing tickets months in advance to see the concert.

Cole DeRuyter, a 17-year-old student from Elkton High School, was among one of the younger faces in the crowd. Along with a group of peers, DeRuyter made the trip with his choir teacher.

“Our choir teacher said it would be fun so I decided to come along,” DeRuyter said. “This is not a usual occurrence [to take trips with the choir]. I love musicals and have been going to All-State Choir for three years.”

The crowd was encouraged to clap, sing and even take pictures of the group (a first for the Woodbine concert series) during the Midtown Men’s energetic concert. The group made each number something worth watching with synchronized dances and dramatic expressions. They performed familiar hits, provided commentary about their lives and history of famous ’60s artists.

The Midtown Men is the first of three Woodbine concerts. On Mar. 13, 2017, Tine Thing Helseth and tenThing, an all-brass, all-women band will perform at the PAC as a Woodbine concert. Tickets can be purchased by calling the SDSU Department of Music at (605) 688-5188.