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…


%TNT Magazine% Jersey

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

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?
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!

Do you ever read reviews?
Matt Hunt: There haven’t been many reviews of the new cast but if there are any on Twitter, I will read them. It’s aways good to get feedback and because we’re all new Seasons, it’s nice to hear what someone who has seen the show with a different cast, thinks. To me it’s all about the company rather than the individual or individual praise. It’s got to be about the show as a whole, not because Frankie is amazing etc.
Declan Egan: And what critics say, isn’t always what you go by because you know, we have standing ovations every night. So if someone does come in and say something negative about Jersey Boys, you also have to take that with a grain of salt and be like that’s your opinion because we have just had a sold out audience on their feet

You perform eight shows a week. That’s no part-time job. How do you switch off?
Matt Hunt: You never stop being a Jersey Boy!
Declan Egan: Once you’re a Jersey Boy, you’re always a Jersey Boy! Um… I guess the key is to keep a normal routine. We both train at F45 which is an Aussie fitness brand, that has just opened up in London Bridge. So yes having another focus like fitness or reading..
Matt Hunt: Or movies, writing songs  – it all helps. And you have to have people around you, who keep you grounded. Personally though I go to the gym a lot – that’s my release.

What has been the proudest moment of your career?
Good question.
Declan Egan: I’d say making my West End debut in Jersey Boys is on a par with working in the US with The Book of Mormon. Working in the UK was tangible because of my dual citizenship, but to audition [in the UK] for The Book of Mormon in America – and then be shipped over to the States made me very proud. It meant I got there by myself – they really wanted me.
Matt Hunt: That’s awesome Declan. My proudest moment? It was when my brother – we’re like best mates – first saw me performing in a professional show. He came up afterwards and was in tears and said to me: “You’ve made it, Matt.” That was really cool. I will never forget that moment – just seeing his face.

%TNT Magazine% LtoR Declan Egan Simon Bailey Matt Corner and Matt Hunt in JERSEY BOYS credit Brinkhoff Mogenburg

Left to right: Declan Egan, Simon Bailey, Matt Corner and Matt Hunt in Jersey Boys. Image credit: Brinkhoff & Mögenburg

What was the last show you saw?
Declan Egan: Sunset Boulevard. I try to go see a show at least once a month. I immerse myself in the arts – whether it’s musical theatre, straight plays, cinema, art galleries… I’m always doing something cultural.
Matt Hunt: The last show I saw was probably Guys and Dolls at The Savoy, a few months ago. To be honest on my day off, I don’t want to go back into town and see a musical theatre show. Plus I didn’t grow up with musical theatre: I grew up with rock bands and so, on a day off, I’d rather go and see a band. New music is my thing. That’s not to say that I don’t  love musical theatre and appreciate the talent and hard work that goes into a show, but you have to switch off sometimes.

Which of the Four Seasons’ iconic hits, do you enjoy singing the most?
Matt Hunt: I always used to like Working My Way Back To You… It’s such a good song and it hits you in the face when you’re in the audience and you see the three boys come down the middle of the stage… But now that I am playing Nick, I think a really well written song is My Eyes Adored You. You can’t not like it. It’s a classic love song that everyone can relate to. 
Declan Egan: Mine would be Who Loves You… it’s so slick and such a crowd pleaser  – and it also pleases the cast! We all have a great time with that one.
Matt Hunt:  And Beggin… There’s so many fantastic songs in Jersey Boys.
Declan Egan: Yeah – my favourites are always changing!

How long are you planning on being in the UK?
Both: Our contracts are until March 2017 but we have dual citizenship so – as long as Britain stays in the EU and we have work – there’s no pressure to leave.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Matt Hunt: I just think it’s cool that Australian talent can come over to the West End and show the Brits what we can do! Unfortunately there’s not a whole lot of work in Australia right now, and I think it’s great that Aussies can come over here and kick some arse!

Thanks boys!

Catch Declan and Matt as Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi in Jersey Boys at the Piccadilly Theatre (16 Denman Street, London, W1D 7DY; Tuesdays-Saturdays at 7.30pm, Tuesday & Saturday matinees at 3pm, Sundays at 5pm; 0844 871 7630;

%TNT Magazine% The Cast of JERSEY BOYS credit Brinkhoff Mogenburg

The cast of Jersey Boys,  credit: Brinkhoff & Mögenburg