Hello all you Buzzers. Jaki’s Buzz was able to catch up with Broadway performer and Connecticut native, Frank Mastrone in between shows to talk about how he got his start, and how he manages performing and raising a family with his lovely wife, Ramona.
Hello Mr Mastrone, thank you for taking a few moments to speak with us and our viewers. You’ve performed in countless shows throughout your career, both on and off Broadway. Growing up in Monroe, had you performed in local theaters or was this a bug you caught in college? What was your very first theatrical role?
I got my first real taste of theatre in 8th grade. My dad was on the Monroe Board of Ed and met the head of the HS English dept who also directed the shows. My Dad mentioned I likes theatre and the teacher, Michael Wolfer, suggested the family come to the Masuk High School Production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF , and we did. I remember being moved like never before. That was it.
The next year, my freshman year, I did my first show FUNNY GIRL and played “Heckie” the cab driver. I had two lines!
You’ve performed on Broadway numerous times, off Broadway and on tour, what would you say are some of the highlights of each venue of shows?
Getting cast in the original company of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, (I was the male singer swing) was obviously the most important job I ever got. To this day, PHANTOM is the most amazing think that has ever happened to me in my career.
I loved performing in TAPESTRY: THE MUSIC OF CAROL KING, though it was technically a flop, because it was, at the time, one of the biggest (expensive) off Broadway show ever, and really was one of the shows that got the “juke box” musical style going. And what great music!
Of course, nothing can compare to performing Jean ValJean in Les Miserables all around the country- especially for six months in Chicago. To enjoy that great city AND to perform in that beautiful show, well, that was truly a dream.
Currently you perform 6 nights a week in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, commuting from your home in Stamford, what is a typical day like for you going into NYC to perform every night?
I am a full time house husband during the day! I clean, do laundry and grocery shop along with preparing for concerts and lawn work.!
My wife Ramona Spinelli and our nine year old triplet daughters Livia, Ava and Franki and I live together with my octogenarian in-laws Leo and Olga Spinelli. A very old fashioned family situation. I am so lucky that my kids get to see what it is like to have three generations in the same house. Very cool.
The hardest part of my job is that my wife and kids go to school and work and I go to the show an hour after they all get home! Very tough. But, the train ride is my time. I read , rest, and study music for that forty five minutes. But I miss helping the kids with their home work or having a quiet cup of coffee with Ramona.
Having made your Broadway debut in the original cast of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, what was it like to return to it 16 years later?
Of course the cast had changed. But really, it was like going back to high school but everybody is older! Over the years the style of the show has evolved, but it is still the most beautiful and romantic show ever.
And, I really needed the job, and that is what makes my return such a blessing. Performing is really the only thing I am good at.
In addition to your theatrical schedule, you perform many concerts in Connecticut and abroad, how does a more intimate audience affect how your performance perspective?
I really enjoy the intimate setting. It is very, very different from doing a book musical. My concerts are what might be called “cabaret” concerts. I tell stories and play off the audience. I sing a very wide variety of music, from Les Miserables and My Fair Lady to Elton John and Led Zeppelin! It really does make me feel alive- and no two shows are alike. Plus, I have lots of great collaborators (pianists and singers and other musicians) and it is like going to school every time I do a new evening!
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.
You can see Frank perform in Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theater on Broadway in NY, and enjoy his musical talents up close on June 10th at the Madonia Restaurant in Stamford, CT.