Jarrod Spector laughs at the suggestion that he's the reigning "Mr. Jukebox Musical."
It's not that he has any regrets about being cast as Frankie Valli for four years in the wildly successful "Jersey Boys" on Broadway. And he certainly didn't mind the Tony nomination for his role as songwriter Barry Mann in "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical," from which he's getting a night off to do a concert at Staller Center April 18.
"Some people think of jukebox musical as a pejorative. I get that," Spector says. "Mama Mia!" for instance. "They plugged songs into a story that had nothing whatever to do with what ABBA recorded," he says. "But the songs are integral to the plot in both 'Jersey Boys' and 'Beautiful.' They're musical bios," he added, pleading not guilty to "jukebox musical."
A NIGHT 'OFF'
OK, so now that that's out of the way, what's with his concert gigs? As a kind of sanity clause (never mind the Groucho Marx riff on St. Nick), Spector had it written into his contract that he could leave "Beautiful" behind once a month or so to pursue his solo career.
But don't expect any Carole Kings hits in the concert at Staller. For one thing, he says, metaphorically, we assume: "There was a time when I would have taken a gun to my head rather than sing another Frankie Valli song. But I haven't been in that show for awhile now, so I do a few Four Seasons songs."
For another, he put together the format for this concert before he was cast in "Beautiful," which opened on Broadway in 2014, and lost the Tony for best musical to "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder."
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The concert draws from his "With a Little Help From My Friends" CD recorded live at Manhattan's 54 Below, in which he dives into the songbooks of Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney and even the early 20th century opera legend Enrico Caruso.
So what's next for Jarrod Spector, featured performer in musical bios?
"Not to be jaded or calloused about it," he says. "But it's whatever the next thing I get cast in."
If that sounds precarious, careerwise, there is a newfound stability in his life.
A BROADWAY MARRIAGE
In October, Spector married his girlfriend, Kelli Barrett. They share a home in Harlem.
While Spector continues in "Beautiful," Barrett plays the title character's chief love interest in the musical "Doctor Zhivago," now in previews on Broadway.
Since he wasn't available for a part in his wife's show, what would the newlyweds' dream roles be together?
"We'd love to do 'Parade,' " the serious musical by Jason Robert Brown, "But our dream role would be in 'Anastasia,' with Kelli in the title role and me as Dmitri."
Or down the road, if they were cast, perchance, for Shakespeare in the Park, Spector longs to play Iago next to his wife's doomed (spoiler alert!) Desdemona in "Othello."
"We're both classically trained," says the Philadelphia native. Shakespeare, Chekhov, Shaw, Beckett all await.
But how do you work dead authors into a concert?
WHAT Jarrod Spector in concert
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. April 18, Staller Center Recital Hall, Stony Brook University
TICKETS $36; 631-632-2787, stallercenter.com