One criterion that I use in judging a performance’s note-worthiness (or for that matter, lack of) is to ask myself, “Did it seem like I sat for three hours in a theater seat?” Happily, in the case of Jersey Boys (now playing in the State Theatre at PlayhouseSquare through May 18, 2014) I can report that the show is so solidly entertaining that for the most part the time flew by. The show combines the great number one smash hits of Frankie Valli and the Four Season with an easy to follow and tightly written storyline as well as a superb cast of actors who cannot only sing but who mimic note for note the recordings from the original group. This is not to mention the excellent musicians, the spot-on lighting the sets and sound.
This last show of the 2013-2014 KeyBank Broadway Series is already a sellout for each and every performance just as it was the last time it graced the stage at PlayhouseSquare. It has everything going for it. Nothing is spared in this production or for that matter glossed over. It is the story of a group of petty criminals who manage to escape their oppressive environment by forming a singing group.
The show tells the tale of the long road that it took the Four Seasons (aka The Variatones, The Four Lovers, The Travelers, The Romans, The Village Voices, The Topics and etc., etc., and… etc.) to reach the pinnacle of fame and fortune while dealing with mob connections, Tommy DiVito’s $162,000 “loan” as well as a half million dollars owed in back taxes. It is basically a tale that states, “You can take the boy out of Jersey but you cannot take the Jersey out of the boy”. Over the course of the show you find out about all the hardships and loss due to constant touring, the vagarious nature of the music business with people coming and going and how in the end family and friendship are really all that matters.
Standouts in the show are Hayden Milanes as Frankie Valli who nails even the most intricate of vocalizations, Nicolas Dromard as Tommy DeVito who steals the scene every time he steps on stage and who in the story kept the group financially viable through hook and crook, Quinn Vanantwerp as Bob Gaudio who in real life was responsible for most of the number one hits that all started with a simple handshake with Frankie (The New Jersey Contract) and is still in effect even today and Adam Zelakso as Nick Massi the long suffering “Ringo” of the group.. These four are the Four Seasons in all their swagger and bluff as well in their unique harmonization that sold over 100 million records worldwide.
Prude Alert: Being as how this is the story of four guys from Jersey who lived on “the wrong side of the tracks” there is a lot of language, sexual reference and briefly hinted homosexuality. The choice is yours to see this if you are sensitive to such matters.
Beef and Flubs: The acting is superb, the singing and music is nothing short of great, the set transitions are smooth and quick and the story is compelling and easy to follow. The only slight gripe I have is that some parts did seem to drag a bit and made the audience restless but then a new song would come along and perk everyone up again.
Shooting From The Lip (In My Opinion): This is the show that probably every subscription holder for the KeyBank Broadway Series has been waiting for and will not be disappointed by in any way. High energy, great songs, a good story and well timed comedy combined with compelling drama makes this a must see conclusion to the season. This is blue collar music that we all grew up with and you will find yourself fighting the urge to sing along.
Tickets for JERSEY BOYS begin at $30 and are available by calling (216) 241-6000 or visiting www.PlayhouseSquare.org. Special discounts are offered for groups of 15 or more. Please call the Group Sales Department at (216) 640-8600 for more information. Performance schedule, prices and cast are subject to change without notice. For more information, please visit www.JerseyBoysTour.com or www.playhousesquare.org.