For those who experienced the promise of youth during the often tumultuous period in which it is set — “Jersey Boys” is a joyous step back in time. The Tony Award-winning jukebox musical, which tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, opened Jan. 9 and continues through Sunday, Jan. 20 at the Murat Theatre at the Old National Centre in downtown Indianapolis. It’s a return engagement for this wildly popular show, presented by Broadway in Indianapolis, that last appeared here in June 2010.
Directed by Des McAnuff, “Jersey Boys” is written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe and choreography by Sergio Trujillo.
This national tour production stars Nick Cosgrove as Frankie Valli, John Gardiner as Tommy DeVito, Miles Jacoby as Bob Gaudio and Michael Lomenda as Nick Massi.
“Jersey Boys,” which premiered on Broadway in 2005, chronicles how four working-class boys escaped from their rough neighborhood by writing their own songs, creating their own unique sound and selling millions of records worldwide to become one of the biggest music groups in rock history.
The musical — which is separated into four “seasons,” with each narrated by a different member of the group, and each with a different perspective — chronicles the formation, rise and the break-up of the original Four Seasons members.
Seen by this writer Friday, “Jersey Boys” played to an audience that consisted primarily of Baby Boomers who were in their youth during the 1960s. The dynamic performers kept the audience thoroughly engaged — dancing in place, clapping and screaming to the music and lyrics from the Four Seasons’ songbook that, for many present, represented the soundtrack of their high school and college years.
Those present who weren’t even born when the group was at its height were also caught up in music that is still recognizable for its catchy, oldie-but-goodie charm.
Due to the uncanny performances of the four actors/singers/dancers who do spot-on impersonations of members of the original group, “Jersey Boys” is much more than the usual musical, because it creates the illusion that one is actually at the Four Seasons’ appearances that take place throughout the show.
Outstanding in their characterizations, Cosgrove, Gardiner, Tomasso Antico (understudy for Miles Jacoby on Friday) and Lomenda, with their authentic-sounding Jersey accents, excelled at recreating the vocal blend and sound that was unique to the Four Seasons.
Nick Cosgrove was particularly impressive singing in a falsetto voice that nicely replicated that of Valli, but at times seemed to surpass, at least in range, that of the icon he played.
Also giving a stellar performance, as the fresh-faced youngest member and chief songwriter of the Four Seasons, was Antico as Bob Gaudio.
The evolution of the group was chronicled in the show that was a repository of the Four Seasons' greatest hits, including "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like A Man," "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" and "Dawn (Go Away)."
Tunes recorded when the group later became known as Franki Valli and the Four Seasons were also performed. They included "Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby Goodbye)," "C'mon Marianne," "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," "Working My Way Back to You" and "Rag Doll.”
The supporting cast — most of whom performed multiple roles — was first-rate. Prominent among them were Kara Tremel as Valli’s wife, Mary Delgado, and Jonathan Hadley as Bob Crewe, the band’s first producer.
Spectacular production elements included a set which featured a series of modules, raised walkways, a staircase, a silhouette of an industrial skyline projected on a scrim, and chain-link fencing incorporated into a design that symbolized the group's urban roots.
Also adding to the fine illusion created by the show's music, lighting and set design were the production's costumes, which enhanced the show’s nostalgia factor, as well as the comic book images illustrating the group's saga that were projected on screens placed high above the stage.
Tickets for “Jersey Boys” are available at www.TicketMaster.com and www.BroadwayinIndianapolis.com, in person at the Broadway Across America Box Office (downtown at 342 Massachusetts Avenue), Clowes Memorial Hall, The Old National Centre Ticket Office, or by phone at 1-800-982-2787.