A slice of 'joiseey' and The Four Seasons arrive next week at ASU Gammage for the Broadway production of Jersey Boys that will run July 22 to August 3. From the touring road yesterday, Nicolas Dromard, who plays Tommy Devito, talked to Examiner by phone about the Tony Award winning Best Musical.
"I'm the first guy the audience sees," Dromard offers. "It's my side of the go-go-go story they hear while the show's engines are blaring. I light the fire in the story and get the audience on my side."
And his side, one of four personalized perspectives the show's narration features, immediately re-focuses the lens. The audience arrives expecting the phenomenal rise to fame story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, but the decades-worth of number one pop chart hits that all of America recognizes with an ingrained-American-flag kind of familiarity, become almost secondary.
Those iconic songs like 'Sherry,' 'Big Girls Don’t Cry,' 'Rag Doll,' 'Oh What a Night' and 'Can’t Take My Eyes Off You' become the backdrop. They add the color and wonder to a remarkable fiction-like tale of mob affiliations, prison sentences and family struggles that represent the true history of the four Italian immigrant kids from the projects who rose to legendary fame.
"Tommy is such a multi-layered acting role. It's a book-heavy musical with big muscle," says Dromard, who turned to his Jersey Boy persona fresh from his leading role in Broadway's magical production of Mary Poppins, as unforgettable, chimney-sweeping song and dance man, Bert.
It's much more an engrossing human interest story than a platter-spinning hit parade. Perhaps Clint Eastwood's new movie rendition of the show plays so well because it's good, engaging drama. On film and in the stage musical, the narrative clips right along. The pace is dizzying especially upon reflection that these were real lives of real people.
"It's a two and a half hour sprint to the finish in Jersey Boys," Dromard describes. "The show and music keep flying at all times; we need stamina to keep that pace going."
Yet, the big screen version (currently showing in the Valley), is an unwitting shout to see the stage production if a choice need be made. Live theatre, by definition, makes the connections between character and audience more palpable. But the songs not only get more play-time onstage, they translate much better to being an extension of the narratives. The music in the Broadway musical deepens our sense of these four young musicians, rather than functioning primarily as a movie soundtrack.
If budget and time allow, see both, as companion pieces. Both are wonderful character studies of the real people who became fame personified. The flashy memory lane of music is unbeatable. Along with hearing the 'summer season' through Tommy's ears, the crowd will come to know the other seasons of the story from the perspective of each of the other three band members, including Frankie himself.
"Everyone remembers it the way they need to, Tommy tells us," says Dromard about the character who "is about a guy who wants the respect of peers."
Though the show is about this most amazing first original pop band in American history, Tommy's personal story--and Bob's and Nick's and Frankie's--is what keeps Jersey Boys alive.