Jersey Boys | The Fabulous Fox Theatre

Jersey-Boys 75The 2006 Best Musical Tony Award winning production Jersey Boys gives new meaning to the expression ‘the crowd goes wild.

 

Jersey-Boys 500

The 2006 Best Musical Tony Award winning production Jersey Boys gives new meaning to the expression ‘the crowd goes wild.’ I’ve seen Wicked three or four times and even the acclaimed magic of Oz has not received the appraisal in those instances that I witnessed from the crowd at this jute box musical about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.

Men and women of all ages were in attendance, and they swooned over this show. They applauded and whistled after songs like “Walk like a Man” and “My Eyes Adored You,” as if we were at an actual Four Seasons concert way back when. I observed couples swaying and mouthing the words and by the time Frankie Valli (Hayden Milanes) got around to singing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” I had hearts in my eyes the size of Jersey. I was mesmerized.

In their prime, this group consisted of four men Valli , Tommy DeVito (Nicolas Dromard), Bob Gaudio (Quinn Vanantwerp), and Nick Massi (Adam Zelasko). Before 30, these boys had sold 175 million records worldwide, and of the 33 songs in Jersey Boys, there are five #1 hits and 11 Billboard’s top ten tracks from the group the show chronicles. (The real life Bob Gaudio and the group’s producer Bob Crewe actually devised the idea to turn the group’s music into a Broadway musical).

There’s more than one side to this story; there’s at least four, actually. Book writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice wrote the play in a way that gives each member of The Four Seasons a chance to speak for themselves on stage in a four part, two act production that is broken up — quite appropriately — by seasons, each season having a different narrator.

Standing before what resembled a fire escape stairwell, DeVito is granted the first word, claiming he will tell you what really happened. You see, the group started out as a trio. There was DeVito himself, a man self aware enough to admit that he didn’t have the talent to sing lead. (Ironically, the man is egotistical and power hungry in every other instance). To compensate for his own lack of star quality he brings in Frankie Castelluccio, who is naïve and well-intentioned. He is renamed by Mary Delgado (Marlana Dunn), who tells him Valli with an “i” — rather than the “y” he had settled on — says “this is who I am, if you don’t like it you can go fuck yourself!” The boy is a brilliant falsetto and a natural talent. Along with DeVito’s brother Massi, the three set out to find another member, and with singer and songwriter Gaudio become four.

Despite Gaudio’s musical talents and business smarts — he wrote “(Who Wears) Short Shorts” before joining DeVito, Massi, and Valli — the group still lacks two vital components, according to their soon-to-be producer Bob Crewe (Barry Anderson): a name and a solid sound. Until they come up with that, they sing backup for Crewe’s other acts. Eventually, the four get a sign, literally, when they notice the name of a local bowling alley called The Four Seasons. With a name and three new songs for Crewe, the four rise to fame with “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and “Walk Like a Man,” songs that I can almost guarantee you’ll recognize even if you enter into the show unfamiliar with The Four Seasons. They’re easily three of the most fun numbers in the show and ones that I can see myself singing along to while driving with the windows down on a warm day.

Lucky for their listeners, The Four Seasons continue to put out great music like “December, 1963, (Oh, What a Night),” despite the fact that conflict is beginning to seep its way into the group dynamic, climaxing when the group is confronted by DeVito’s loan shark.

I shy away from alluding to too much more of the storyline wedged between some phenomenal numbers because for me the storyline is what makes this show especially worth seeing. Before I saw the show, I had listened to the soundtrack countless times, head over heels for the music, but I cannot emphasize enough how much more meaning some of the songs have when put into context by the storyline of the show. Now when I listen to the album, I don’t just hear the tracks; I recall the show and the often intense emotions that embodied it.

One last thing I will say though is that I’d argue it took each one of those boys (in real life and on stage) to create the beautiful and fun harmonies of these songs. Without even just one, it would not sound the same. | Megan Washausen

Jersey Boys runs through March 2. Visit www.fabulousfox.com for ticket information.

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