Rob Marnell reflects on his role as Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys
By Susan Stapleton
Photography by Christopher DeVargas
Every night, Rob Marnell gets to lose his virginity all over again, playing the role of Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys, the Broadway musical at Paris Las Vegas that tells the story of the Four Seasons and how they came from the wrong side of the tracks to become one of the hottest pop groups of the ’60s and ’70s.
There comes a moment in the show when the Four Seasons are on tour in Chicago, and Marnell and the gang sing “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night),” a nostalgic remembrance of a man’s first time with a woman.
That’s just one of the songs Marnell, who at 26 took over the Gaudio role in Jersey Boys back in February when the show moved from The Venetian to Paris Las Vegas, loves performing in the show.
These guys, Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and lead singer Frankie Valli, had a choice as they were growing up—go in the Army, join the mob or become a star. When the three find Gaudio, they became a quartet known as the Four Seasons. “I do love singing ‘Cry for Me’ every night,” Marnell says of the moment when the quartet sings together for the first time. “The audience starts clapping there. You can feel how invested they are. They’ve been waiting for the first 35 to 38 minutes for them to sing together.
“The moment he (Bob Gaudio) heard Frankie sing for the first time was a life-changing moment for him,” Marnell says.
Each act of the show has a different narrator, with Marnell taking over during the second when he joins the group and the good times start to roll for the quartet. Gaudio’s proficiency as a songwriter leads to the Big Three, three hit songs in a row that escalated the Four Seasons from recording tracking vocals to stardom. It started with “Sherry,” then “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man.”
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Marnell landed the role of Gaudio. “The character Bob is really fun,” Marnell says. “I kind of feel like he’s a version of myself. Bob’s kind of laid back, or for lack of a better term, a normal guy. Everyone else has an outlandish character trait.”
Since taking on the role, Marnell has found inspiration in his character, who in real life wrote songs for the likes of Frank Sinatra and Neil Diamond as well as the Four Seasons.
“I also write songs as well,” says Marnell, who says performing the character in Jersey Boys is his big Broadway break. “I think being in the show and playing a character like Bob has inspired me to put a little more focus on that. Maybe I can be as driven as Bob. He actually made me feel really lazy. I really need to get going here. His drive and foresight have been really inspiring to me.”
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