When Jye Frasca say the original production of A Chorus Line at Broadway’s Shubert Theatre, he knew he wanted to be an actor. A few weeks ago, Frasca was inside the Shubert Theatre (this time taking in Hello, Dolly!) when he found out he’d make his Broadway debut as Boq in Wicked.
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But the Australian-born Frasca isn’t actually new to the role; he was the original understudy for Boq in the original West End production of the show in 2006. Frasca left the show to pursue London’s Jersey Boys, where he played Frankie Valli, and had thought his time in Oz had come to an end. Yet, after a prolific career in London—from his West End debut at the age of 17 as A-rab in West Side Story to productions of Mamma Mia!, Cats, Anything Goes, We Will Rock You, Mary Poppins, and more—Frasca has finally achieved his dream of playing the Great White Way. Here, the actor takes us through his audition repertoire (watch him sing “I Want to Break Free,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” and “All I Need Is the Girl”) in the video above and learn the songs he used to book his biggest jobs below:
What song did you use when you first auditioned for West Side Story?
Jye Frasca: There is an amazing actress—her name is Geraldine Turner—she’s a huge leading lady down in Australia. I went to a workshop with her and I’d seen her in Into the Woods, and he said to me “You should sing ‘Giants in the Sky’ because you’re a perfect Jack.” So literally for the first four shows that I ever got sang “Giants in the Sky.” That was my go-to. Geraldine Turner told me to sing it so I was going to SING IT. That song is so character-driven. I would always sing that in conjunction with [another song], like for Mamma Mia! you have to sing a pop song.
How do you approach picking songs for different styles of shows that still speak to you?
I don’t traditionally like to sing the same thing. I like to pick something that is very geared towards the character. I sang “All I Need is the Girl” and “I Want to Break Free” for Wicked. I went through my book and Craig Burns [Wicked’s casting director at Telsey + Co.] said, “Sing that,” which is “I Want to Break Free” because it was the highest song in my book. And I gave him a little cheeky smile as if to say, “Of course you want me to sing that at 10:15 in the morning.” And then he said to me, “Sing me something that shows me your legit Broadway sound.” I had never done “All I Need Is the Girl” in an audition before, but my uncle always said to me you should sing “All I Need Is the Girl” so I’d learned it but I’d never sung it for anything. I pulled that out and it was such a full circle moment in that I’d never done it but I started because my uncle told me you should sing that. I always try to sing something as close as possible to what the character would sing in the show but that’s not in the show.
What are some other songs in your book?
For Mary Poppins I sang “Giants in the Sky.” I did it in a cockney accent which actually worked really well. Anything Goes I sang “What Do I Need With Love?” from Thoroughly Modern Millie because Millie had just come out then. There’s a wonderful song called “What Am I Doing?” from Closer Than Ever.
People love to sing songs from Closer Than Ever in auditions!
Because the songs are brilliant from the entire show, but they’re not really that known. What’s very difficult is you go in for a rock musical singing “Livin’ on a Prayer” and you’re the 16th person that day and no matter how extraordinary you think your version is, you’re still the 16th person. That’s why It’s so important to find something that is individual. But “What Am I Doing?” I sang for Thrill Me because that’s darker story and kind of stalker-ish and that song is about that. I do really tend to learn things for auditions. For Jersey Boys, a friend of mine Nicholas Skilbeck who is the music director for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he did an arrangement for “Duke of Earl”—because it’s so hard to find something that will show your falsetto and your top belting range. He did the most amazing arrangement for me, but I’ve never used that song for anything else because nothing else requires that style.
Is there a song that you love that you love to sing but hasn’t been right for any auditions?
“Can’t Take [My Eyes Off of You]” I would never sing in an audition, but I think I sound ok singing it. [Laughs] Also that song is so special to me because when you’re doing that 11 o’clock number and the love the audience is giving you because of the character’s journey to that point is amazing.