Michael Watson recently took over as Frankie Valli in the West End production of Jersey Boys which has moved to London’s Piccadilly Theatre.
Although the production has been running for over six years, Michael is only the third actor to play Frankie full-time in the West End. He follows the footsteps of Ryan Molloy, who played the role for six years, and John Lloyd Young, who won a Tony for originating the role on Broadway and reprised his performance in Clint Eastwood’s film adaptation.
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. It tells the true story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and their rise to stardom from the wrong side of the tracks.
Michael’s West End theatre credits include: We Will Rock You (Dominion), Imagine This (New London), Sister Act (Palladium), Shrek The Musical (Drury Lane) and the charity gala performance of Hair (Piccadilly). Before taking over as Frankie full-time, he understudied the role for a year at the Prince Edward Theatre.
I recently spoke to Michael, who is one of the friendliest and most hospitable performers I have ever had the pleasure of interviewing, backstage in his dressing room at the Piccadilly Theatre after a matinee performance about how it feels to have taken over as Frankie, how he prepared to take on one of the biggest roles in musical theatre and his future career ambitions…
You’ve been lead Frankie for nearly five months now! You must be feeling more settled. What was it like taking over?
It was definitely a quite surreal experience because not only did I take over from Ryan (Molloy) who was the original over here, but we had the original Broadway Frankie, John Lloyd Young, come and do six weeks. I took over from the two masters of the trade! It was a mad experience and I tried to take it in my stride without letting it get on my shoulders too much. As you say, as time goes on you settle in and find your own way of ‘being Frankie’ and don’t try to recreate anything. It’s about finding your own way of playing the role around the system of the show.