Joseph Leo Bwarie: Just Too Good to be True

Joseph Leo Bwarie: Just Too Good to be True

Sat, 11/05/2011 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Joseph Leo Bwarie 

Photo credit: Red Banister Productions, Inc.

In 2009 Rochester fell in love with Joseph Leo Bwarie when he took the town by storm in the role of Frankie Valli in the Broadway tour of Jersey Boys.  Now, he’s back with Nothin’ But Love. Join host Robert Hammond as he welcomes Broadway and recording star Joseph Leo Bwarie to this week’s Stage Notes.

 

Joseph Leo Bwarie

With the summer 2011 release of his debut album, Nothin’ But Love, his starring role as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys, and a musical (for which he penned the book & lyrics) in development for Broadway, Joseph Leo Bwarie is, as Hollywood icon Garry Marshall declared him: “three of the most exciting words in show business.”

Born in Pasadena, California, to a family of entrepreneurs, Bwarie got his first “gig” at four years old: little Joey was put to work organizing the sprawling candy aisle at his parents’ store – a job that sometimes found his face smeared with “missing” chocolate bars.  But from the start, he had an audience:  employees, customers, salespeople and the celebrity clientele that would frequent the family business.  It was routine for Joey to be asked to sing, and sing he did.

At just nine years old, Bwarie sang his first studio session for Highway to Heaven followed by Michael Feinstein’s children’s album Pure Imagination.  By twelve years old, he had already lent his voice to such feature films as Radio Flyer, The Power of One, Last of the Mohicans, Alien 3, Die Hard and Batman Returns; he had sung the theme to the series seaQuest DSV; and was hired to be a voice on television’s The Wonder Years and Sherri Lewis’ iconic Lamb Chop’s Play-Along. At sixteen, Bwarie was a seasoned studio singer and had recorded with The Manhattan Transfer and with Michael Crawford on music producer David Foster’s The Christmas Album.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting from Boston’s Emerson College, Bwarie returned to California and began a collaboration with Mr. Garry Marshall and his Falcon Theatre.  With Marshall’s daughters, Bwarie developed and produced the acclaimed children’s programming, all while acting with the award-winning Troubadour Theater Company.  Marshall recognized Bwarie’s onstage talents and in 2005 cast him as Fonzie’s cousin ‘Chachi’ (opposite Joey McIntyre) in the world premiere musical Happy Days.

Following a performance of Happy Days, legendary singer/songwriter Carole King stopped Bwarie and told him of a show in La Jolla, California, titled Jersey Boys and that she thought he should be playing Frankie Valli.  The following year, a series of auditions and callbacks in Los Angeles and New York culminated in Bwarie landing the coveted role of iconic, falsetto-singing Valli. Approximately 1500 days, 1000 shows, and 3,000,000 audience members later, JLB continues to sing 27 hit songs a night, six nights a week across America.

Other credits include stage work from Las Vegas to New Zealand and on-screen roles from television’s Mama’s Family to the 2010 star-studded feature film Valentine’s Day.  He has appeared in numerous films including The Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement, The Addams Family, Raising Helen, Chronic Town and Race to Witch Mountain.

In 2010, Joseph Leo Bwarie teamed with Billboard hit-man, arranger/producer Charles Calello, (renowned arranger for Sinatra, Streisand, Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, Laura Nyro and Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons) and began work on Nothin’ But Love. Recorded in Miami at Criteria Recording Studios (The Hit Factory), Nothin’ But Love was independently produced and features legendary jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, world famous Brazilian percussionist Paulinho da Costa, and Calello conducting a 40-piece orchestra.  Bwarie requested the session dates be recorded live capturing the authentic big band swing sound and the microphone bleed as he wanted the album to feel (and sound) like the records he heard in his grandparents’ home.

Bwarie performed live at the 63rd Academy Awards, the 63rd Annual Tony Awards and the 63rd Annual Horatio Alger Awards. (JLB hopes to break the streak of “63″ as the 63rd Grammy Awards are not until 2021.)



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