An Interview with Jersey Boys’ Tim Driesen
"You could join the army, join the mob or become a star"
Jersey Boys is the remarkable true story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and their rise to stardom from the wrong side of the tracks.
These four boys from New Jersey became one of the most successful bands in pop history, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and sold 175 million records worldwide, all before they turned 30.
Jersey Boys has been seen by over 19 million people worldwide and is firmly established as one of the West End's longest running and most popular shows, where it continues to play at its new home of the Piccadilly Theatre.
OX spoke to the man playing Frankie Valli, Tim Driesen...
When you played young Ken Barlow in the Coronation Street Musical Street of Dreams, was there pressure because he’s such a well-loved character?
He’s one of the longest serving Soapstars in the world I think…there was a little bit of pressure. It was a very short lived production of an arena tour that never toured – it stayed in Manchester for a few performances and then it got pulled!
But it was fun – a celebration of a much loved Soap series!
You’ve got your own solo album, 7 tracks, 4 of which you’ve written yourself. You’re really not just a Musical Theatre Performer are you?
Well I’ve done Mama Mia based on ABBA tracks, I’ve done We Will Rock You with the songs of Queen, Never Forget featuring Take That music and now I’m playing a pop star in Jersey Boys singing Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I thought it’s about time that I lived my pop star dream and released an album that I’ve done myself!
Your album is called In My Corner and that’s one of the tracks on it too; who is that song about?
It’s not completely autobiographical. It’s about when you first meet someone, when you take someone on a date and see where it goes…
I think it’s just nice, that feeling you get when you first meet someone and you really like them and you go on a date with them and start going out with them. The song is about knowing that someone is in your corner looking out for you, that joyous feeling that you also get when the sun comes out.
You will have done your research into Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons for Jersey Boys. It is said that they were “from the wrong side of the tracks”; what does this mean?
Back in the 60s, if you lived in New Jersey, you get three ways out. You can join the army, join the mob or become a star.
These guys had brushes with mafia and petty crimes – little break-ins and gambling, making a little bit of money from things falling off the back of a truck – they weren’t clean-cut.
Frankie grew up in the projects which was like a council estate. And he tried to make a better life for himself and his family so he used what he knew he had, his falsetto voice, to his advantage and hoped that someone would pick it up and make him a star.
How do you sing that Frankie Valli falsetto every night?
By drinking lots of water, warming up a lot and not partying!
We also get a voice lesson with a lady in America over Skype. Everyone who plays Frankie gets these lessons – she knows which exercises to give to people that do a lot of pop singing.
There’s a lot of maintenance to be done for the voice; but it’s such a joy to be able to sing songs like ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ and ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ that I gladly give up certain things in order to do so.
Willy Russell was once told songs in a musical have to be hummable, that’s definitely the case with Jersey Boys isn’t it?
Absolutely. In Jersey Boys you get iconic pop songs that have been listened to and loved by generations. These are songs that were originally done in the 60s so you get a lot of people coming who were there the first time round. I wasn’t there the first time round but I knew some of the songs from cover versions and hearing my parents and grandparents play them – good music just remains good music.
When I first saw the show I sat down and thought I wouldn’t know any of the songs. And then you start getting the hit songs like ‘Sherry’ and you’re like “I know this!” Even with the songs you don’t know, you think “These are really good songs”; I’d never heard ‘Walk Like a Man’ before but I still thought “This is really good!”
By the end of the night everyone is on their feet dancing along which is all we can expect and all we want really.
Jersey Boys comes to New Theatre Oxford 12-24 May (7:30pm with 2:30pm matinees on Thursdays & Saturdays). Tickets can be purchased from the New Theatre box office on George Street, by ringing 0844 871 3020 or by visiting the website at (phone and internet bookings subject to booking/transaction fee).
For bookings of 10 or more, or for Equal Access bookings, please call dedicated in-house team on 0844 871 3040.
Top Image - Left to right; Sam Ferriday, Stephen Webb, Tim Driesen and Lewis Griffiths in Jersey Boys UK tour (Image Credit: Helen Maybanks)
Middle Image - Tim Driesen
Bottom Image - Left to right; Lewis Griffiths, Tim Driesen, Sam Ferriday and Stephen Webb in Jersey Boys UK tour (Image Credit: Helen Maybanks)