BWW Reviews: JERSEY BOYS Still Flaunts the Grit and Glam of The Four Seasons
It's an in-depth, musical adaptation that gives "Behind the Music" a run for its money. It's hard, sometimes, to remember that JERSEY BOYS isn't a concert; it's also hard to remember that we are not in 1963. Most importantly, it's hard to remember that that's not Frankie Valli on stage. It's not hard to forget those "oldies but goodies" that came from the rough and tumble, original-non-stereotypical-boy band of the '60s.
To recreate the fame and heartbreak of the badass group, there has to be a gritty finesse in order to showcase the unexpected voices and talent of four Jersey hoodlums. The story is the all too familiar tale of four boys under a streetlight; the tremendous success and the embittered fall-right back to a glamorous reunion. This tour has that finesse.
Famous Artists Broadway Theatre Series brought the second national tour of JERSEY BOYS to The Landmark in Syracuse this week.
I think that I was lucky enough to have parents who listened to the group and played their records and cassettes while I was growing up. It's not difficult to recognize a Four Season's jingle when it plays, it's especially not hard to identify the giddy falsetto of Frankie Valli gleaming through the speakers before anything else.
Perhaps that's why the theatre is packed with middle-agers reclaiming their youth, waving their hands and silently chirping along to each song. The Four Seasons are an iconic emblem of a generation that-instead of singing to women-allowed men to a get a chance to sing their side of the story. Still, for someone like me, it's an emblem that seeps through to my generation.
This jukebox musical opened on Broadway in 2005 and has since spawned numerous tours and productions across the country. It won four Tony's in 2006, including Best Musical. It's not hard to see why-this tale is worthy of the stage as well as the talent. The dizzy trip down memory lane brings about the woes and successes in the perfectly crammed book and over 30 songs like "Dawn," "Sherry" and "Big Girls Don't Cry."
The musical climaxes, much like the band, with the almost rock, not quite pop song, "Cant Take My Eyes Off of You."
The obvious hero of the group, Valli, is played by the short, dreamy Brad Weinstock, and Jersey native. His incredible tenor is one that matches Valli's-albeit his grandiose notes were sometimes lost in the drum riffs. Weinstock, who and played Joe Pesci in an earlier run in Las Vegas, gives an innocent, lovable version of the leading man.
The rest of the group falls right in line. It is truly is like watching the real life version of a coming of age band. Brandon Andrus (Nick Massi), Colby Foytik (Tommy DeVito) and Jason Kappus (Bob Gaudio) give stellar performances and deliver the nasally vocals that baby boomers shiver at.
From the reaction of the audience, the performers gave spot on impersonations of the notoriously troubled group.
Like that of John Lloyd Young, who originated Valli on Broadway, Weinstock is doing something right. Even though the show is lined with the vulgar nature of being a two-timing, Jersey musician, there is something that Weinstock gives to his character that portrays Valli as the star he is meant to be. The same is not true of Massi and DeVito-it seems like they were always meant to stay under the streetlamp, maybe deservedly.
For someone like me, who did not grow up with The Four Seasons, this musical is still an epic must see. This tour delivers a performance that carries the band's grit and glam. The vocals are stellar; the cast is The Four Season's redux.
DeVito says, "Everyone remembers it how they need to." It's very true. The blame for the break up could be anyone's, the success, could be anyone's. But what rings true for the audience, isn't the personal drama of the group, but the songs-the memories. They care about the songs.
After all, they'll leave singing them.