This young musical theatre star is grateful for his dance training, discovers Sally Clark.
RYAN Gonzalez is 26 years old and his star is in rapid ascension. Most recently starring as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys, he has also performed in The View Upstairs, Kinky Boots, Violet, Strictly Ballroom, Legally Blonde and In the Heights, for which he won a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Lead Actor in a Musical. When I caught up with him during the Brisbane season of Jersey Boys, I found he’s also a funny and passionate guy whose inspirations are as multi-faceted as his talent.
Clark: Can you tell me a little bit about performing the lead role of Frankie Valli?
Gonzalez: (A huge sigh precedes) That’s a very good question.
Performing the role of Frankie Valli is iconic for me. My family probably saw this show maybe 15 times, while I was training at Brent Street in Sydney. (He graduated at age 18, but had earlier attended Brent Street’s Talent Development High School.) I idolized it as such a massive role and I never saw myself doing it, ever. (At the time) I remember thinking, it’s here now – it’s not my time. Then when it came back around, I thought, oh, I will audition for it, because I know the show really well. Then getting it was like, wow… It’s so iconic!
He (Valli) really paved the way for so many artists and he inspired so many people, and he still does. His voice has inspired so many people, too. That sound is incredible! Trying to honour it is still a challenge every night. I don’t necessarily sound like him. I have quite a thick belt and his is quite thin and nasal, so that’s a challenge in itself. The second challenge is the amount of singing – it’s like a marathon!
How do you take care of yourself?
Sleep has become the most important thing ever! I’ve never done a job before where it can wear you completely down to your absolute bare self. By the time I finish the show I’m literally just a walking flesh zombie of myself. It just drains everything out of me. Sometimes I can’t talk.
I’m lucky that I had really good support. [The producers] were very particular about how you learn the show and learn and create the sounds, so now I can wake up and reset every morning. If I wasn’t I’d be doing damage but this way I can give the role everything I’ve got . . .
This is an extract from "Showtime: Reaching high" in the April/May issue of Dance Australia. To read the full article and more, buy Dance Australia at your favourite retail outlet, or online here... OR never miss an issue by subscribing here.
Pictured top are (from left): Thomas McGuan as Bob Gaudio, Ryan Gonzalez as Frankie Valli, Cameron McDonald as Tommy Devito and Glaston Toft as Nick Massi, in 'Jersey Boys'.