Age & Hometown: 25, as of October 23: “I get to spend my birthday on Broadway!”; Ukiah, California
Currently: Making his Broadway debut as composer Bob Gaudio, the brainiest Four Season and BFF of Frankie Valli, in Jersey Boys.
Born to Perform: From birth, VanAntwerp has been surrounded by artistic women: His mother teaches dance, his aunt ran San Jose Rep for 20 years and another aunt, Holly Near, is a renowned folk singer. “When I was 13, Holly took me to New York,” he recalls, “and an hour before her concert, she asked if I wanted to sing backup. I ended up on stage at Studio 54 with Margaret Cho and Ani DiFranco.” Another influence was Broadway star John Raitt, whose son lived in VanAntwerp’s hometown. “I was 11 when I heard John sing for the first time, and I turned to my grandmother and said, ‘That’s what I want to do.’” In a full-circle moment, VanAntwerp returned home last summer and gave a concert costumed in one of his idol's jackets, lent by Raitt’s daughter Bonnie.
Walk Like a Man: Just after graduating from U.C. Irvine, VanAntwerp was tapped to play Bob Gaudio in the Toronto company of Jersey Boys and ended up staying for two years, plus a third year on tour. “There’s a line in the show, ‘Now I have everything a 22-year-old could want,’ and I got to say that the whole year I was 22,” he says with a laugh. In addition to his enduring love of Four Seasons music, VanAntwerp credits Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s “incredible” book for keeping the show fresh after 1,100 performances. “The heart of it is the script and the story of these four guys,” he says. “The longer I perform it, the more I understand what they went through.”
Broadway Baby: Everything is coming together nicely for VanAntwerp, who will be joined in New York by girlfriend Victoria Lamond, a former Jersey Boys dance captain in Toronto and now a budding gemologist. “Being on Broadway was a childhood dream of mine,” the young actor says. “and my father told me he realized when I was very young that I would work harder than anybody else to try and get there. So many people my age seem lost, and the job market is so bad, I feel very blessed that I always knew what I wanted to do. And I’m so proud to be making my debut in this show.”