‘Jersey Boys’ cast steps into IU Auditorium with a Hoosier working behind the scenes

Hayden Milanes

Hayden Milanes, center, plays Franki Valli in “Jersey Boys.” From left, Drew Seeley, Matthew Dailey and Keith Hines also star. | Photos by James Brosher.

“Jersey Boys” opened a six-day run at IU Auditorium last night, telling the story
of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons through a high-energy cycle of song and dance.

The Tony-winning musical has been playing on Broadway since 2005 and now is being presented in Las Vegas, London and by traveling companies in the United States and United Kingdom.

Last night was the tour’s first stop in Bloomington.

For Indiana University graduate Michael Camp, last night also marked a memorable return to a familiar venue. “It’s wild to be back in this building. I did so many concerts on this stage,” he said. “Memories just came rushing back while looking out at the audience and seeing the house.

Michael Camp

Michael Camp, an IU gradutate, serves as company manager for the touring company of “Jersey Boys.”

“I love the city. I love the vibe here. I love the university,” he said.

Camp, who has served as company manager on the Jersey Boys tour for more than three years, performed at IU Auditorium as a Singing Hoosier and in the student competition IU Sing.

The native of Frankfort, Ind. began as a voice major in the music school and ultimately earned a bachelor’s degree in musical theatre in 1990 through the individualized major program. As a student, he also took part in numerous IU Theatre and IU Opera Theater productions.

Camp said he was encouraged to pursue the special degree by George Pinney, head of musical theatre in the Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance.

“There are a lot of people from this university that really have affected and changed my life and directed me,” Camp said.

He also mentioned the personal impact of Carlos Montené, a professor of voice in the Jacobs School of Music; Carol Smith, former IU voice professor; and Robert E. Stoll, who led the Singing Hoosiers for more than 30 years.

Managing the show

As company manager, Camp represents the producer of “Jersey Boys” and handles day-to-day operations of the touring company.

It is a job that is different every day. “Nothing really should happen in the company without it crossing my desk,” he said.

Camp is responsible for travel logistics, payroll and other financial and personnel matters, but he especially enjoys the social aspects of his work. “I like being a part of the company. I make a point of walking around, saying hello to people, checking in,” he said.

“I’m so proud of these boys every night. They get up there and they put out 120 percent every night on stage. It’s a very demanding show for them, and not just the four boys.” he said. “I’m really proud of the entire company. It makes my job so much easier that they have that pride in what we do.”

The “Jersey Boys” story

“Jersey Boys” strikes a chord with audiences for several reasons. “This music sticks with you. It’s a part of the American songbook now,” Camp said.

But the show is much more than a performance by a boy band or a couple of impersonators. “It’s a full musical. It’s an American story,” he said. “It’s about four guys who came from the wrong side of the tracks and made a success of themselves and made it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

And there are surprises.

“They wanted to be seen as wholesome, all-American boys,” he said. But the show reveals a few darker, less known parts of the true history behind the group.

“It’s a great story, and the music is some of the best in the pop catalog.”

A life in the arts

“I never thought that management would be something I was going to go into,” Camp said. “But who knew?”

He looks back to his time at IU and remembers how much he learned while helping manage the Singing Hoosiers. And he recalls taking an accounting class that he hated, just to meet a requirement. “Never in my life did I think I would need it. Now I use that class almost every day,” he said.

“I’m very grateful that I’m still in the arts, and still in the music and theater industry. I thought I was going to be on stage, and I did that for years,” he said.

“You can continue to work in the arts, but maybe not always in the area you originally thought,” he said.

Still, he said, his performance education remains valuable. “I’m a better manager because I understand what they’re going through, what they’re doing up there. I can relate in that way.”

“Jersey Boys” at IU Auditorium

“Jersey Boys” continues at 8 p.m. March 4 to 6; 2 and 8 p.m. March 7; 1 and 7 p.m. March 8 at IU Auditorium.

Tickets are $25 to $59 for IU Bloomington students with a valid ID and $48 to $69 for the general public. For tonight’s performance only, IU faculty and staff can obtain seats for $29, thanks to the support of The Cook family of companies. Tickets may be purchased online or in person at the IU Auditorium box office from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or through Ticketmaster.

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