Unless you are in fact Frankie Valli, you can’t be Frankie Valli forever.
At least this is true of Rick Faugno, who for five years has portrayed Valli in various productions of Jersey Boys. Faugno has played the Valli role for 3 ½ years in the standing production at Palazzo.
But as of Oct. 9, Faugno-as-Valli will cease, as the antsy song-and-dance man embarks on a one-man show (his own, conveniently enough) titled Body & Soul at Las Vegas Hilton’s famous Shimmer Cabaret. Faugno’s 3-month contract with the hotel, under which he is four-walling the production, began Monday night. The show opened this week and plays each Monday at 8:30 p.m. (tickets are $29 and $39, absent fees; for information, go to the L.V. Hilton website).
Even before the 3-month commitment, Faugno has performed the show at the Shimmer, bolstering his urge to step off the Jersey Boys stage and the protective-if-confining role of Valli.
“It is a big hurdle,” he said this week during a phone interview. “I have always had the security net of Jersey Boys, and it’s a lot of pressure. I don’t know if five years is a magic number, but there are other things I want to do in life.”
Expanding his acting options: Faugno played the title character in the indie film Virgin Alexander, which centers on a 26-year-old virgin who happens to be named Alexander who happens to fall for a prostitute. The film won top honors at the Las Vegas Film Festival last month. Having studied film at New York University, Faugno plans to audition for film roles in Los Angeles over the next several months.
Embracing as many music genres as possible: Faugno’s first foray into one-man showmanship in Las Vegas was a solo performance last year at South Point Showroom. He weaved his life story into that show. But Body & Soul is far more a “club” show in the spirit of The Rat Pack, a variety show where Faugno covers Stevie Wonder, James Brown and Michael Jackson, along with a mixed bag of standards. “The sky is the limit,” he says.
Doing more than just singing: Faugno has that soaring voice honed after performing as Valli for several years, but he is a terrific tap dancer and can hoof it up pretty well in a non-tap capacity. He also plays piano and drums. “It’s a mixed bag of stuff,” says Faugno, whose father was a jazz drummer.
Growing as an artist, always: “A big goal that I have is to continue doing films,” he says. “It’s a different art form.” What about the immediacy and intimacy of live audience response so many performers miss when they venture onto a movie set? “I’m one of those people who sing and dance and act, and I enjoy doing that. This is a different medium, but it’s just as rewarding in its own way. There’s no response from a live audience, but the reward comes later, and that’s fine.”
Remembering whence he came: “I’ve been doing this a long time,” Faugno says. “I’ve been performing since I was 12 years old. Really, in my career, I’ve always just loved trying my hand at anything.”