In addition to his fame as a member of the casts of Broadway’s Jersey Boys in 2005, the show’s Off-Broadway revival in 2021, and the Broadway production of A Bronx Tale: The Musical in 2016, Long Island native Chris Messina has been an active and integral part of the award-winning phenomenon The Boy Band Project, a rotating group of hot Broadway talents reimagining the sound, moves, and vibes of NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Hanson, One Direction, 98 Degrees, O-town, Boyz II Men, Jonas Brothers, and other top vocal groups that defined the millennial generation of the ‘90s, with their own brand of tongue-in-cheek humor, irresistible appeal, and triple-threat talent.
One of The BBP’s signature shows is the Boy Band Brunch, which began in 2018, and soon became a weekly sensation, earning them eleven Broadway World Cabaret nominations and three wins, for Best Group, Best Original Song, and Best Ensemble Soloist for Messina. The Boys have headlined at 54 Below, had residencies at NYC’s The Green Room 42 and Chelsea Table and Stage, in Provincetown, Rehoboth Beach, and Puerto Vallarta, and have become a regular act around the globe on Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Cruises, and Princess Cruises.
This year’s summer schedule will take them up and down the East Coast, with a stop in the Midwest and, on June 17, a noon brunch at the New York City Winery. Chris, who appears in the show as “The Sporty One,” graciously made a little time in his super-busy touring schedule for a fifteen-minute Warholian Pop interview about his shows, his personal taste in music, and what he enjoys most in his life and career.
- What’s the most fabulous thing about touring?
Chris: Seeing all the different places and different cultures, getting to meet people from all over the world and seeing the way they live their lives.
- Is there one boy band that’s your absolute favorite?
NSYNC, and I also love Boyz II Men.
- Which song in the show do you always look forward to performing?
The opening number. The choreography and the costume change let the audience know immediately that it’s going to be fun!
- Do you have an idea for a song you’d like to add to the concert?
“Dirty Pop” by NSYNC.
- What three places have you especially loved visiting on the entertainment cruises and tours you’ve done?
Puerto Vallarta, Aspen, and the Azores.
- What three cities haven’t you performed in yet but would like to play in the future?
Palm Springs, LA, and Montreal.
- What three things do you always take with you when you’re traveling?
Glitter, a positive attitude [to which the other Boys teasingly chimed in, “Nope”], and hairspray.
- What came first for you – singing, dancing, or acting?
Singing. I was afraid of dancing because I didn’t want people making fun of me.
- What’s your first creative memory?
I was singing before I could form words and speak. Then the first Broadway show I saw was Footloose and I knew I wanted to do that. I was auditioning since I was ten and I got a role in Les Miz, but I had to turn it down because my Mom couldn’t go with me and be away from my Dad and the other kids for that long.
- What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Sparkling, authentic, and passionate.
- Who or what has been the biggest inspiration in your career?
My parents, for always standing by me and giving me the opportunities to audition in New York. I didn’t go to college because of that, which would upset most people, but I have the most amazing parents in the world.
- What’s the most memorable reaction you’ve ever gotten from an audience member?
After performances of Jersey Boys, when I was playing Frankie Valli on tour in different cities, people who had lost their kids to drugs would tell me how much appreciation they had for me. There’s a scene in the show when he loses his daughter, and, having been through that themselves, it was a catharsis. The feeling that I could be of help to them was pretty special. Also, the first time I played Frankie Valli, my Dad and brother were in the audience. There are a lot of breaks through the fourth wall in the show, and I looked at them and could see them sobbing; I felt like they understood what I do and why it’s so important to me.
- Is there one BBP move that’s the most fun for you to do?
Jumping off the stage! And I love doing New Kids on the Block “You Got It (The Right Stuff”) – their moves are iconic.
- What do you do for fun in your off time?
We like to try the best restaurants and bars in every area; we check the reviews wherever we are and go out for food and cocktails.
- What’s the best thing about being famous?
The number of people you touch and make smile, letting them slip away from the stress in life to escape together with us through the power of music.
Thanks, Chris, for sharing your thoughts and letting our readers get to know you a little better; it’s always a pleasure to talk to you. I look forward to seeing you next month at City Winery with The BBP and wherever your ongoing 15 minutes of fame take you!
The Boy Band Project’s Boy Band Brunch plays Saturday, June 17, at noon (doors open at 11 am), at City Winery, 25 11th Avenue (at 15th Street), NYC. For tickets (priced at $25, plus a $4.50 processing fee; brunch not included in the ticket price), call (646) 751-6033, or purchase them online.
Before you go, check out the trailer below: