Milwaukee's Marcus Center has an impressive line-up of award-winning musicals this season, including the Tony, Grammy, and Olivier Award-winning Jersey Boys (http://www.jerseyboysinfo.com/tour/), which will grace the stage Oct. 16-27. Running for nearly ten years, Jersey Boys is the theatrical biography of the 60's rock sensation, The Four Seasons, highlighting unseen challenges they faced throughout their career. This show features narration from cast members playing each of the famed band members: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. Saturday night, Sept. 21, cast member Jason Kappus shared what it's liking playing Bob Gaudio in this successful production.
Jason Kappus has been singing since he was a child, but started considering acting as a career in his sophomore year of college, when he switched his major from Computer Science. After graduating in 2004, Kappus spent six years learning the trade and acting professionally in Seattle before moving to New York.
Kappus portrays the final band member to join The Four Seasons, musical prodigy, and Jersey Boys composer, Bob Gaudio. He's reportedly been a fan of the show long before becoming a part of it, and when considering which of The Four Seasons member he wanted to portray, he commented,
When I first saw the show I looked at Bob and thought, 'That guy is taller than the other four, he plays piano, and he's cast as generally less Italian-looking as the other three and all those things fit me perfectly. He's also a laid back, easy-going guy and that's kind of me as well so I identified pretty quickly with that character.
And while giving over 700 performances for the same show may make it challenging to keep it fresh for the audience, Kappus jumped at the unique opportunity to play a rock star which, he says is, "the closest most of us will come to the real thing." But the audience also gets to experience this alternative reality first-hand as Kappus states,
The show is structured so well that the audience is taken on this wonderful ride in which at some point they become, not just the audience watching Jersey Boys, but they become the audience at the Ed Sullivan Show or the audience at the stadium that The Four Seasons are playing at that point in the show, so the audience kind of becomes a character in the show.
This certainly doesn't mean that one must be a Four Seasons fan beforehand to enjoy Jersey Boys. Even for a fan of the show and primary cast member such as Kappus, one often doesn't realize how much they know of the band's work until they hear it. When asked about his previous knowledge of The Four Seasons music, he replied,
I didn't listen to [The Four Seasons] specifically, but what's so impressive about this catalog of music is everyone knows the songs, even if you're not a Four Seasons fan per se... they're still so pervasive in our pop culture and have been over the years that everyone that comes to the show knows the songs even if they didn't know they were Four Seasons songs.
Kappus wasn't alone in this newly realized appreciation and recognition of the iconic rock 'n' roll band, and there are plenty of other surprises for audience members. People typically come to see Jersey Boys for the classic tunes they know and love, but they also get the little-known tale of how the band members came from the streets of New Jersey to international fame. The show is completely biographical, as band members Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio often met with writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice to tell their story and create the "warts-and-all true version" for the stage.
How they handle success is almost stranger than fiction. There's gambling debts, mob connections, jail time.. it's a fascinating story that even people that grew up Four Seasons fans didn't know about because we didn't have all the media coverage and internet and everything when these things were happening.
The upbeat 60's hits that survive generations brings in a a range of audience members, but Kappus suggests that this heavier side to The Four Seasons and their rise to fame brings an unexpected change in the primary demographic.
What's particular about this show in the musical theater genre is that it's really a guy's show which sometimes says this is the show that husbands drag their wives to instead of the other way around. There's cars and girls and a bunch of rock stars so the guys really love this show and so that's a gold ticket. If you can sell the husbands and the wives you've done something right.
Jersey Boys can be enjoyed by just about anybody, but the more gritty, backstreets side of the story along with some "authentic Jersey language" does make this show more PG-13.
It's nothing that you don't hear on HBO or anything but that is in there. Other than that it's a really good time for everybody. People who came out and saw it when we were in town last time bring all their family in the next time we come through because they have a really great time.
Jersey Boys will run at The Marcus Center Oct. 16-27 and tickets will go on sale Sunday, Aug. 18 starting at noon. For a sneak peak at the show, visit http://www.JerseyBoysTour.com/watch or visit http://www.jerseyboysinfo.com/tour/ for more information on the Jersey Boys tour.