BWW Review: JERSEY BOYS at Overture Center Surprises
I thought, "Big Whoop". I never had any desire to see this show. First, it's Frankie Valli, how tough could his life really be, big star, where's the conflict? Secondly, and more importantly, I know this music. I certainly did not want to see it performed in the classical musical theater operatic style. I could be in for a very long night.
WOW! Was I wrong! What began as four guys singing under a street lamp and continues today, on a handshake by the way, proved to be a gripping and moving story about friendship, loss and more than anything else, honor. While the show is about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, it's also about so much more.
A sign flashes "SPRING" as the lights dim and we are treated to the French rap hit "Ces Soirees-La" ("Oh What a Night"). I know. I was also confused, but it turned out to be a brilliant way of introducing the show. It's here that we meet Tommy DeVito (Matthew Daily), the self-proclaimed, "Guy dat put it all together". As Tommy says, "There are only three ways out of the neighborhood, Join the army, mob up, or be a star".
Tommy may be a dreamer, but he can make things happen. While he and his friends flounder a bit, they did finally add a kid from the neighborhood to the band. Little Francesco Castelluccio. Knowing that his name was too long to appear on the marquee, he changed it to Frankie Valli (AaRon De Jesus). Now a steady trio with Nick Massi (Keith Hines), the group soon realized that it would need a fourth. After some searching they were introduced to Bob Gaudio (Corey Jeacoma), who wrote the hit "Short Shorts" at the age of 15.
After being led through many a trial (sometimes literally) and tribulation, including them finally settling on a name, we are treated to a great multi-media experience for their break out hit "Sherry". As the group performs on the stage, we see a vintage black and white recording on the screen above them. This was done so well that I still am not sure if it was a real recording of The Four Seasons or not. This same vehicle would be used to have Ed Sullivan introduce the band as they sang their hit single "Dawn".
The use of the seasons to tell the chapters of the tale is a great way of letting the audience know exactly where they are in the story. The music is used to not only tell the story, but to accentuate the experiences and feelings of the members of the band. And can they ever pull that off! Wow to the vocals!
As the show progresses we find ourselves being further drawn into the heartbreaks of the road. The "in fighting" between members and the loss of relationships are not only witnessed but are experienced by the audience.
When Frankie's wife Mary (Kristen Paulicelli) tells him, "You're just a wop from Jersey who never even graduated high school" it hurts. When that leads to divorce and the soft ballad, "My Eyes Adore You" I can feel my face wet with tears. Suddenly they were telling my story, our story, for who among us has not been through something similar in their life.
Tommy runs into a bit of trouble financially, Frankie and the band take on his debt. As friends fade away, more relationships die and the band falls apart Frankie continues to erase the sins of his friend. Finally, the obligation paid in full, Frankie has lost nearly everything. This erasure of Tommy's arrears came at a high cost, but was paid due to a sense of old school honor.
After giving the cast their well-earned standing ovation the audience departs, but somehow unwilling to relinquish the hold this show had over them, they sang. Some in small groups, some solos, some flittered from one group and song to another like musical butterflies, and some merely hummed softly to themselves, perhaps too timid to join in, but nearly all sang none the less. That is the kind of show this is. Go. See it. You'll not regret it for it truly is our story in a way...all of us.
Madison, Wis. - Overture Center announced that individual tickets for the Madison return engagement of the Tony, Grammy and Olivier Award-winning hit musical JERSEY BOYS, the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, will go on sale Saturday, September 17 at 9 a.m. The show, back by popular demand, will play in Overture Hall Tuesday, January 3 - Sunday, January 8, 2017.
Tickets can be purchased in person at the Overture Center ticket office at 201 State Street (doors open at 8:30 a.m.), 11 a.m. online at overture.org or 11 a.m. by phone at 608.258.4141. Subscriptions available now. Tickets for groups of 10 or more available now by calling 608.258.4159.
The tour welcomes Cory Jeacoma (Bob Gaudio) beginning September 15 in Syracuse, NY. He will join a company that includes Matthew Dailey (Tommy DeVito), AaRon De Jesus (Frankie Valli) and Keith Hines (Nick Massi) as The Four Seasons, with Wisconsin native Barry Anderson and Thomas Fiscella.
The ensemble of JERSEY BOYS includes Mark Edwards, Corey Greenan, Bryan Hindle, Miguel Jarquin-Moreland, David LaMarr, Austin Owen, Kristen Paulicelli, Leslie Rochette, Andrew Russell, Jenna Nicole Schoen, Dru Serkes, Jonny Wexler and Jesse Wildman.
JERSEY BOYS is the winner of the 2006 Best Musical Tony Award®, the 2006 Grammy Award® for Best Musical Show Album, the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Musical and the 2010 Helpmann Award for Best Musical (Australia). JERSEY BOYS worldwide has been seen by over 23 million people (as of January, 2016).