BWW Reviews: JERSEY BOYS is Sensational!
It is way too limiting to categorize Jersey Boys as a jukebox musical, because it is a production that is deeper and richer in story line, texture, and technique than most. It is ultimately a tale of invention, of the creative work-in-progress, the sometimes perilous and sometimes glorious alchemy that, in the case of four young men from the gritty streets of Newark, transforms them into one of America's iconic rock and pop groups.
It is the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on multiple levels ~ about friendship and loyalty, ego and betrayal, the costs of success, the roller coaster ride of fame, and redemption. Each character ~ Valli, DeVito, Gaudio, and Massi ~ has a shot at telling his version of their story, and you know, vignette by vignette, that fame doesn't come easy or free, and you realize how fate could as easily have landed all four in jail and deprived us of their genius.
And their story is brilliantly conveyed in perfect harmony by Hayden Milanes (whose tenor falsetto is spot-on Valli), Nicolas Dromard, Quinn VanAntwerp, and Adam Zelasko. Each vocalist is extraordinary, and every song soars, melding with the moments in their lives and the turns in their relationships.
It is as well a uniquely American story about a time of transition in this country when ironically two bands reflected two distinct strains of youthful aspiration ~ where the Beatles' fans were aiming to "levitate the Pentagon" but the Four Seasons were singing for the GIs overseas and the girls and families they left behind.
Close your eyes, and you're sure you're hearing the real thing. Open your eyes and you're watching four virtuoso performances that seem to authentically capture every finger-snapping movement. And there are moments when you're carried back into time with the clever use of Marconi broadcast cameras that project the performers as if they were live on Ed Sullivan's stage.
This show is epic and creative in its artistry ~ from Klara Zieglerova's spare but elegant sets to Michael Clark's stunning production design and especially his use of Roy Lichtenstein pop art-style projections to indicate the seasons and subtexts of the Jersey singers' lives. Ben Hartman conducts a knock-your-bobby-socks-off orchestra. And, oh yes, Mark Papazian's drums rock!
Jersey Boys had the audience at ASU Gammage Auditorium in their hands, and at show's end the audience's hands went up in a rousing standing ovation that proclaimed, "Oh, what a night!"
The show runs through August 3rd and is a must-see!
Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel