by Mark G. Auerbach
Jersey Boys is back at The Bushnell, and the musical story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons sizzles with as much excitement as the show created when it dazzled Broadway over a decade ago. Using the songs that Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons sang, introduced, or made hits over their stunning decades-long career, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice have told the story of the quartet’s rise to fame, as told from the perspectives of the individual members of the group. Tight direction by Des McAnuff and non-stop dancing by Sergio Trujillo turn Jersey Boys into an exciting evening of theatre. And you can’t go wrong with Bob Gaudio’s and Bob Crewe’s cavalcade of Four Seasons hits, from “Sherry” to “Big Girls Don’t Cry” to “Walk Like A Man” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”.
Jersey Boys originated at California’s LaJolla Playhouse, opened on Broadway to rave reviews, won the Tony Award for “Best Musical”,, and ended its record-breaking 11-year run last January as the 12th longest-running show in Broadway history. Clint Eastwood adapted Jersey Boys as a movie. What sets Jersey Boys apart from other juke box musicals is the incredible score, and the rags to riches story of the quartet, which starts on the seedier side of Jersey.and ends up at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s not a pretty tale, but the quartet are tough survivors.
The Jersey Boys–Matthew Dailey as Tommy DeVito, Aaron De Jesus as Frankie Valli, Keith Hines as Nick Massi, and Cory Jeacoma as Bob Gaudio–are superb, and De Jesus has an incredible vocal range. I also enjoyed Barry Anderson’s performance as Bob Crewe. The Broadway production team recreated their exceptional work for the tour. Lighting designer Howell Binkley picked up a Tony Award for his work.
Jersey Boys plays The Bushnell through Sunday. Miguel Jarquin-Moreland plays Frankie Valli on Saturday afternoon and Sunday night.
I grew up listening to the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, and I loved Jersey Boys when I saw it on Broadway early in the run. Tonight’s performance reminded me what a great trip down music memory lane Jersey Boys provides, and how the sound created by Gaudio and Crewe is still contemporary, varied, and fun to listen to.
The Bushnell presents Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. Music by Bob Gaudio. Lyrics by Bob Crewe. Scenic design by Klara Zieglerova. Costume design by Jess Goldstein. Lighting design by Howell Binkley. Sound design by Steve Canyon Kennedy. Music director by Taylor Peckham. Choreography by Sergio Trujillo. Directed by Des McAnuff. . Through March 26, 2017 at The Bushnell, Hartford, CT. 860-987-5900 or www.bushnell.org.
Mark G. Auerbach studied theatre at American University and the Yale School of Drama. He’s worked for arts organizations and reported on theatre for newspapers and radio.