“Jersey Boys” is what I call a feel good jukebox musical. Whether you’re a fan of The Four Seasons or not, by the time you leave the theatre, you’ll be singing many of the great songs the group wrote and recorded.
The show opened on Broadway in 2005 and ran till 2017. “Jersey Boys” has toured all over the world and won four Tony Awards in 2006 as well as the 2009 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical. The idea for the show came from original Four Seasons member Bob Gaudio, who wrote the music. He hired writers Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman to write the book, Des McAnuff to direct and Bob Crewe to write the lyrics. Crewe wrote some of the group’s bigger hits including: “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Rag Doll,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “My Eyes Adore You.” He was also the record producer that signs the group when they were basically unknown. Mark Ballas (a regular on “Dancing With the Stars”) reprises his performance as Frankie Valli, a role he played on Broadway. Valli has a very high falsetto voice and for the most part, Ballas nails it.
The show takes us back to New Jersey in the 1960s, where it all began. The members of The Four Seasons besides lead singer, Franki Valli, were Bob Gaudio (Cory Jeacoma) on keyboards and tenor vocals, who was responsible for the group’s unique sound, Tommy DeVito (Matthew Dailey) on lead guitar and baritone vocals, and Nick Massi (Keith Hines) on electric bass and bass vocals.
Once they burst on to the scene, these four Jersey guys’ popularity just kept growing and growing. At one time, they had 20 Top twenty singles dominating the charts. They sold over 175 million records worldwide by the age of 30 and were eventually inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“Jersey Boys” however is not only about the music. It’s about the personal journey of the four members of the group. They each have to deal with their personal struggles, addictions, friendship, marriage, family and loss. The show will definitely have you dancing in your seat but in the end, you will be touched by their lives away from the public eye.
The whole cast, including Barry Anderson, Kristen Paulicelli, Leslie Rochette and Jesse Widman, are all excellent. However, there’s one character that definitely took the audience by surprise. He’s a young neighborhood guy named Joey (Jonny Weller) who grows up to be actor Joe Pesci. As a kid, he introduced Tommy Devito and the other band members to Bob Gaudio and the rest is history.
“Jersey Boys” opened at The Ahmanson Theatre on May 17th and plays thru June 24, 2017. Performances are 8pm Tuesday-Fridays; 2pm and 8pm on Saturdays and 1pm and 6:30 pm Sundays. Tickets: $25.00-$130. To purchase, call 213-972-4400 or www.centertheatregroup.org.
Lastly, when I saw the show on opening night, Mark Ballas escorted Frank Valli onto the stage. Of course the audience went crazy. He didn’t sing but he did take a well deserved bow.
Photo courtesy of Center Theatre Group