The Tony award winning musical Jersey Boys first opened on Broadway in 2005, and as Frankie Valli compares in the play, he’s just like the “Energizer Bunny” and he keeps going and going…
The musical doesn’t show signs of stopping either, luckily for this viewer this touring production still sings.
The story follows the rise of the Four Seasons-Bob Gaudio, Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Massi. With a story set up straight out of GoodFellas, Tommy DeVito places Frankie Valli (kid with the voice of an angel) to front his band. Through recording contracts and new writing partners (Bob Gaudio) the Four Seasons coalesce. We eventually see how debt, family tragedy, and tour life colour the rest of the four’s lives.
One of the effective things about Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s book is that story does not become second fiddle to the songs, as this is one of the first of many Jukebox musicals to come out of the early 2000’s, songs become catalysts and incremental steps to the ascent of the group’s fame. The writers don’t sanitize these boys either; the show is peppered with profanity, which contributes to some very funny scenes. Brickman and Elice also have the four men narrate each of their sides of the story, parsed out with each corresponding season making for four different perspectives that fully gives full value to each of these characters.
Jonny Wexler playing Frankie Valli here has a stellar falsetto and wicked dance moves, and in the final scenes brings an emotional weight that makes them the more poignant. Corey Greenan is an especially suave and slick Tommy DeVito with a great singing voice. Tommaso Antico makes for a very handsome and nervous Bob Gaudio, who sings a clear, and bright version of “Oh, What a Night.” Chris Stevens has a very put on voice for his Nick Massi that makes him seem like the less intelligent of the group but it does payoff in his scenes.
The scenic design by Klara Zieglerova helps to keep the story moving and creates two levels of scaffold accented by projections that is in the style of Sixties pop art. Howell Binkley gives the rock and roll lighting but helps with passage of time. Des McAnuff really keeps the driving the pace as we have a lot of ground to cover, but each isolated scene transitions into another on the turn of a dime and rings depth, character, and humour from the book. The choreography by Sergio Trujillo is appropriately period but makes these characters more impressive in the musical numbers.
Jukebox musicals can be tough to sit through if you don’t have a story to hold up to the songs, but Jersey Boys does just that gives the audience the songs of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and gives us insight into the how, what, when and where it happened.
CATCH JERSEY BOYS the Broadway Across Canada Tour at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver until Novemver 19th.
or go to www.broadwayacrosscanada.ca to see when it will hit your town!
Photo Credit: "Walk Like a Man" L-R Jonny Wexler, Tommaso Annticido
Corey Greenan, Chris Stevens
Photo by Joan Marcus