Erich Bergen ‘Live’ hits Southern CaliforniaEntertainment Feature, Entertainment News, Online Only Thursday, May 14th, 2015
Chances are you’ve heard of actor and singer Erich Bergen, but if you haven’t yet, it won’t be long before you do. Bergen is close to becoming a household name, being seen weekly in the CBS drama Madam Secretary.
Bergen plays Blake Moran, assistant to the secretary of state, played by Tea Leone. The show premiered high in the ratings and continues to do so, earning the new drama a renewal for next season. And, last year Bergen was practically hand picked to play the role of Bob Gaudio in the Clint Eastwood film Jersey Boys. (Jersey Boys started in San Diego at The La Jolla Playhouse before becoming a Tony Award winning Broadway hit.)
Bergen met Gaudio while going through the process of auditioning and rehearsing for the first national tour of Jersey Boys beginning their business friendship; he also played Gaudio in that tour and in Las Vegas. When Eastwood was casting the film, Gaudio himself recommended Bergen for the role. Quite an honor to be sure, considering Bergen was surprisingly let go of his Vegas contract.
“Bob was there for all of my auditions back in 2006,” Bergen said. “He was there in the room, he was there during rehearsals. He was there all the time. He’d come out for visits. We had some great times together. When the movie happened we didn’t speak. I remember sending him an email early on saying ‘I’d love a shot at this’, but before I was called in for the audition he said ‘I’m not a part of this, I’m completely not involved. So sorry’, and honestly that was it. He did not visit the set for the movie and I did not talk to him during the movie, he wasn’t even at any of the premieres. I did hear from many people including Clint, that Bob chose me, which is, ya know, an extreme honor. But again, it teaches you so much about show business. I mean here I was, this kid that had really thought I had hurt people and upset people and I thought ‘I’ll never be seen again’ and then cut to, uh, ‘We’re doing the movie, and uh bring him back in he was the best one’. The bottom line is I’m thrilled that I earned the respect of someone who is so important to the shows and that my work impacted them enough to want to spend a lot of money on preserving that performance. So, I’m really just thrilled!”
Bergen, born and raised in New York City, has lived with music pretty much all of his life. His parents met at the Actors Institute in New York. His dad even had a few cabaret dates in the West Village at the famed Duplex, where he’d open with Sondheim’s Everybody Says Don’t and go into Barry Manilow’s Even Now. Needless to say, music, and the arts, was always part of his household.
It’s not surprising that Bergen would end up not only being able to play piano, but also toured the country in Jersey Boys and Anything Goes. He’s also been involved in more than one original show in both Los Angeles and Chicago.
When it comes to his live performances, Bergen is romantically old fashioned. He prefers to think of those performances as concerts, much like they used to be thought of in the Vegas days of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.
“The type of artist that I want to be, that I try to be, in general as a performer, is someone… is a bit of an old fashioned model,” Bergen admitted. “Where someone that you like in a movie or TV show, then you’d go to see in Vegas for the weekend and see their act in the showroom at The Sands. That’s the world that I come from. It’s not so categorized, that you have to be just a television actor or you’re a pop star. I do what I like to do and if people show up then I’m successful. I’m never Justin Timberlake or never Daniel Day Lewis, but if I get somewhere in the middle and I’m doing what I love then I’ve succeeded. So my live concerts tend to be different for whomever I’m playing. If someone wants to hire me based on the space they have I can make it a very intimate affair, or we can do it with a 10-piece band.”
Lucky for Californians, Bergen gets to do both styles of concerts on this leg of his trip. His first concert will be the more intimate style concert Monday, May 18 at Martini’s accompanied by American Idol musical director Michael Orland. May 21 and 22 Bergen will be performing at Catalina Bar and Grill on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles with a 10-piece band and once again with Orland on the keys.
Orland, pianist, arranger and associate musical director for American Idol, and Bergen never really had a formal meeting as it were. Their friendship and eventual work collaboration was something that was obviously bound to happen. As Bergen explains it, it’s as if the two musically read each other’s minds during rehearsals and performances.
“What I love about Michael is he is my right hand man,” Bergen said. “I can’t play [piano] like him but my brain is wired to him. If I’m talking and all of a sudden I think there should be music under this leading into the next song so that when I stop speaking I can just start singing and it goes right into it and Michael will know without even planning that out that that’s what I’m aiming for. It’s bizarre how it happens he just … our brains are wired. It’s a breathing thing. It’s an energy thing. What’s amazing about Michael, as well, is that his jukebox goes from 1950 to today. I mean he can play anything. If he sort of knows it, or if you just sing a little bit he follows with you it’s absolutely incredible what he does. It’s a true talent. I don’t know many other people who do it. I don’t know anyone else that does it.”
Bergen’s stint here in California doesn’t last for long before he has to head back east to do the same show in New York. Get your tickets while you can. Whatever your pleasure, intimate setting or 10-piece band, it’s clear Bergen is out to please his audience and given his track record thus far, it’s no doubt he’ll be doing just that.
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