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Aussies, Matt Hunt and Declan Egan, talk to TNT about their Four Seasons experience.

Declan Egan and Matt Hunt don’t walk into room, they strut - just like their alter egos: Jersey Boys Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi.

The Australian- born former flatmates are everything you would expect from a Jersey Boy - energetic, fun, full of charisma and real raconteurs.

The duo have had different roads to stardom. Hunt (Massi) started out as a singer and guitarist in a band, while working as a lifeguard, before getting his big break in 2010. Elsewhere Egan (Gaudio) graduated from performing arts school in 2011 and succeeded in landing work almost straight away.

However both are proving their talent at London’s Piccadilly Theatre, turning in seemingly effortless performances to a sell-out crowd on a nightly basis. Not bad for two small-town boys from Oz...

TNT’s Kaye Holland caught up with the relentlessly upbeat Jersey Boys whose enthusiasm for the smash hit show - the story of four boys from the wrong side of the tracks making it big in the music industry - is infectious.

Ask a question and Declan and Matt are off, barely pausing to draw breath. But what do you expect? They’re Aussies: they don’t f**k about...

 

Matt Hunt as Nick Massi and Declan Egan as Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys. Credit: Brinkhoff & MoĢˆgenburg

Has performing always been your big love?
Declan Egan:
Yes, I've always been very theatrical, even as a young kid. I was aways playing dress up - I still am! Performing is always something I have always wanted to do.
Matt Hunt: I don’t think I realised until I was in my teens, and started a band, that I enjoyed performing in front of people. I was always a smart arse and performing for my parents and friends, but never knew I wanted to perform professionally until I was a teenager and the front man of a band. It took time.

Tell us a little about the similarities and differences between the Australian production of Jersey Boys (in which you both starred) and the West End production?
Both:
They're exactly the same. 
Declan Egan: That said, there's less swearing in the West End version - the Brits can’t handle it.
Matt Hunt: Yeah, there's definitely more swearing in the Aussie production. There's a scene at the start of the show where a guy gets shot in a car and there’s about four or five lines from that scene which have been cut from the British version, because the amount of swearing. It's shame because that car scene is one of the funniest scenes in Jersey Boys.
Declan Egan: l think it has to do with Australian culture. In Australian culture...
Matt Hunt: Everyone swears. We curse a lot more than Brits.
Declan Egan: And that culture we’re representing of New Jersey, is similar to Australia.
Matt Hunt: Swearing aside, the show is exactly the same. It might be better in Australia - I don’t know!

When did you move to London? How did that all come about?
Declan Egan: I came over, got an agent and started auditioning for shows after I had finished Jersey Boys in Australia. That was two and a half years ago. And Matt..
Matt Hunt: I flew over for 10 days in Nov 2013 to audition for Jersey Boys UK. Two weeks later, an offer came through and I flew back in February 2014 for the role of Norm Waxman before taking up the lead role of Nick Massi in March 2016. But Declan was in The Book of Mormon for a year in America.
Declan Egan:Then I came back to London and was lucky in that the role of Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys UK opened up - it's the perfect show for my West End debut.
 

What does working on the Jersey Boys mean to you?
Matt Hunt: It’s an honour. A privilege. We are very, very grateful to be part of the show. It’s a great show. You don’t meet many people who don’t like Jersey Boys. And to be part of that show and playing one of the leads… wow. And you get a standing ovation every single night in the West End, whereas Australian audiences tend to be a little more reserved… There’s a lot more theatre over here, so I think the audiences know that you can clap and dance...
Declan Egan: I went to a performing arts school in Newcastle, Australia, and we dreamed about going to Broadway or the West End - they were and are the pinnacle. To reach the pinnacle, it’s like: "wow."
Matt Hunt: Sometimes, it doesn’t feel real. You have to pinch yourself. It wasn’t until the official photos came out a few weeks ago, that we realised we’re on the billboards in the West End!
Both: It’s crazy!
Matt Hunt:We grew up in small Australian country towns. It’s pretty mental.

Are you finding London audiences, different to Australian audiences?
Declan Egan: You know, I had a different experience to Matt in that I definitely found that - come the weekend - the audiences in Australia would go crazy. There's a big sporting culture in Australia, so people would actually holler and whoop - all that kind of stuff - throughout the show. Whereas here in the UK, the audience are more reserved up unto the last minute and then they go mad. But both audiences have a place.
Matt Hunt: Every audience is different to the last audience. They are never going to be the same but Jersey Boys does attract a loyal audience. One lady has been to the West End production 161 times! She just loves it. Instead of going out for drinks or to the cinema on a Friday night, she comes to see Jersey Boys.


What do you miss most about Australia?
Matt Hunt: Apart from the weather?
Declan Egan: You’re going to make us homesick! I’d say family and friends. We’re both dual citizens so have family here in the UK, but most of my immediate family are in Australia and that’s hard. And I miss milestone occasions - people’s weddings etc. This happened when I was on tour with the Jersey Boys in Australia too. At first it was very easy to be like, "I am doing this amazing job" but after a while…. they touch on this in the show too. Frankie says: “I’ve climbed the ladder of success, I’m one step higher than the rest […] But if you’ve got a home and family, you’ve got much more than me.”
Matt Hunt: There are elements of that for sure, but the lifestyle in Australia is just so much cruisier. London is a hard city. Also you drive everywhere in Australia. I haven’t driven in two and a half years, and I miss going on a 100km road and just driving. It’s the lifestyle and the culture that I miss the most - we both lived near Sydney with its beaches. But it’s great having Declan here in London. We’re good mates and even had brunch together today.
Declan Egan: Yeah we hang out a lot and while you do miss your friends, you make a lot of new friends - there are so many Aussies in London!



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