Everybody has that one friend who’s a little too accomplished, too likable and too stylish for his own good. The guy you just want to lovingly punch right in his handsome face. Mine is Erich Bergen.
Before playing Bob Gaudio in the feature film “Jersey Boys,” Erich played the role in more than 1,000 performances of the Grammy- and Tony Award-winning musical of the same name. While lighting up Las Vegas’ production at the Palazzo, he produced, directed and hosted “Las Vegas Celebrates the Music of Michael Jackson,” raising $100,000 for music education in Nevada public schools.
Now, Erich co-stars as Blake Moran opposite Téa Leoni in CBS’ “Madam Secretary,” and this past year, he debuted a wildly entertaining solo show as a singer/pianist at the Smith Center.
The rising star of stage, screen and style opened up about his personal fashion evolution and the Technicolor style-energy of Las Vegas — and his plan to get his favorite designer’s attention.
You’ve played stylish men on stage and screen. Have any roles influenced your own wardrobe?
“Jersey Boys” did, absolutely. I’m 6-foot-3 and I have no butt, so low-rise pants are not a good look on me. The problem is that most contemporary, slim-fit jeans (and suit pants) have a low rise. When I put on the costume for “Jersey Boys,” which takes place in the 1960s, I finally found pants that fit correctly — slim cut with a higher rise. It’s hard to find that in the real world, so when I find the correct fit, I just buy that item in bulk. Blake’s wardrobe on “Madam Secretary” is actually the other way around; my personal taste inspires his. Low-paying government jobs in D.C. don’t really allow for much fashion past some stock Brooks Brothers suits, but we’re doing the television drama version of D.C., not a documentary. So I work with the wonderful costume designer for our show, Amy Roth, to throw in some “un-D.C.” accents — colorful ties, tie bars and, of course, a personal favorite of both Blake and I, pocket squares.
You grew up in New York City but lived here while performing in “Jersey Boys” at the Palazzo. What do you miss about the fashion energy of our crazy city?
I love that you can get away with so much in Vegas. It’s great to see men, who maybe back home in the Midwest wear standard beige menswear, all of a sudden sport a pair of bedazzled shoes and a bright purple shirt. It’s maybe not the most tasteful look, but I love the confidence ... just because they’re in Vegas.
What don’t you miss about it?
When I got to Vegas, Ed Hardy shirts were all the rage, so I really don’t miss that.
How has your personal style evolved since leaving Las Vegas?
I’ve come to appreciate men’s style not based on what is cool or trendy, but rather what is made well and fits correctly on me. There’s that moment where you go into a store, pick up something that looks really cool, try it on, and realize you look like an old man trying to look like “the kids.” It’s a wake-up call. I’ve learned, especially being tall and lanky, that “simple” and “fits well” are always your best bets.
Any favorite labels?
I tend to wear Tom Ford across the board, especially his suits, because they fit me off the rack like they were custom-made for me. Mr. Ford hasn’t reached out to me, but maybe if we send him this article and all the receipts for my previous purchases from his store …
I saw you perform recently at the Smith Center in a very snazzy ensemble. How do you choose wardrobe for your own concerts?
My rule is simple: I don’t want to look like I could be in the audience. If I bought a ticket to see a show, and I was dressed better than the person onstage, I’d be pissed. The stuff I wear onstage is classic menswear with a show-business twist. I ride that fine line between fun and gross.
What do you like to wear on date night? What do you like to see on someone else?
I think it’s the same for both myself and the other person: an outfit that makes you feel great about yourself. The outfit shouldn’t wear you. You should feel confident and comfortable in it.
When are you coming back to Vegas?
I visit Vegas a lot. I’m actually surprised how much I get back there. When Celine is ready to be done, I’ll gladly take over.