Jersey Boys on Broadway Reviews
Link no longer active - Score: 9
From: Broadway.com By: William Stevenson Publication Date: 11/07/2005
Watch your back, Mamma Mia! A new jukebox musical has arrived on Broadway, and it's as much of a crowd-pleaser as you are. It's also a lot smarter, and it actually tells the story of the group whose music it celebrates--the Four Seasons. Slickly directed by Des McAnuff, Jersey Boys stars a bunch of talented unknowns who are making the most of their big break. They, and the show, are a knockout.
Link no longer active - Score: 9
From: New York Post By: Clive Barnes Publication Date: 11/07/2005
It's a Broadway commonplace that the most important thing about a musical is the book - but no one goes out singing the book, so it's a commonplace often forgotten. Then comes a show like "Jersey Boys," with a book, by Broadway newcomers Marshall Brickman (Woody Allen's one-time co-writer) and Rick Elice, that's as tight and absorbing as an Arthur Miller play, whipped up by director Des McAnuff into a controlled rock frenzy. That's when you realize just what a book can do. A glitzy, sleight-of-hand staging never hurt, either.
Jersey Boys - Score: 9
From: Time Out New York By: Adam Feldman Publication Date: 11/10/2005
With Jersey Boys, the Broadway musical has finally done right by the jukebox, presenting the Four Seasons' infectiously energetic 1960s tunes as they were intended to be performed. True, the script adheres closely to the dramatic beats of a VH1 biopic: building bridges in the first act, delving into tunnels in the second. But under Des McAnuff's sleek direction, the result feels canny instead of canned. And Bob Gaudio's music, as sung by a dynamic cast and shaped by Steve Canyon Kennedy's exemplary audio design, sounds as good as it ever did (and sometimes—blasphemy!—even better).
Joyful Jersey - Score: 9
From: Bloomberg.com By: John Simon Publication Date: 11/11/2005
`Jersey Boys,' at the August Wilson Theatre, is quite simply the best jukebox or song-catalog musical so far. It rousingly recreates the catchy songs, convoluted lives and roller-coaster careers of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Never having heard more of the group than their names, and lacking all interest in them and their music, I entered the theater a skeptic, but promptly turned believer.
Link no longer active - Score: 8
From: AP By: Michael Kuchwara Publication Date: 11/07/2005
Jersey Boys" wears its jukebox-musical credentials without apology. And well it should. When it sings and moves, this musical biography of pop icons Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, which opened Sunday at Broadway's August Wilson Theatre, really rocks. The energy is unstoppable, particularly from the four lead performers -- Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard, J. Robert Spencer and the amazing John Lloyd Young as Valli. Only when it attempts to tell the story of the lads' rise to fame and fortune does "Jersey Boys" occasionally falter, sinking into a soapy resume of their lives.
'Jersey Boys' hit of the Seasons - Score: 8
From: New York Daily News By: Howard Kissel Publication Date: 11/07/2005
Unlike other jukebox musicals, which use a group's hit songs to tell some other story, "Jersey Boys" simply narrates the career of Valli, his friends and the man who wrote their successes, Bob Gaudio... Sometimes such a technique can be deadly, but the book, by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, handles everything with such lightness and finesse that you get caught up in their story. This is in no small part due to the skill of the cast under Des McAnuff's canny direction.
Link no longer active - Score: 8
From: Newark Star-Ledger By: Michael Sommers Publication Date: 11/07/2005
Not a jukebox musical stuffed with golden oldies so much as a compelling bio-musical, "Jersey Boys" gets plenty of mileage from can't-get-em-outta-your-head classics like "Big Girls Don't Cry" while legitimately employing the music for dramatic purposes. Fluently scripted by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, this classic rags-to-riches story is narrated in turn by each member of the 4 Seasons, beginning with Belleville wise guy Tommy DeVito, who organized the group between his visits to the slammer in the late 1950s. Energetically weaving story, songs, visuals and exciting performances into a can't-stop-the-music tidal wave, director Des McAnuff stages a compelling rush of events that pauses only occasionally to savor the beauty of certain songs. Live video is spliced with vintage film of '60s crowds reacting to the band or pop art-style cartoons that comment upon various moments.
Link no longer active - Score: 8
From: Newsday By: Linda Winer Publication Date: 11/07/2005
Why does "Jersey Boys" succeed - and it does, exuberantly - when most jukebox musicals have been a pain in the Broadway butt? For starters, the creators of the show about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons don't just love this blue-collar DNA-pop music from the '60s. Authors Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, director Des McAnuff and choreographer Sergio Trujillo obviously also understand why they love these dopey romantic lyrics with the simple song structures, the gorgeous harmonic blends and the immaculate yet easygoing doo-wop beat.
'Jersey Boys' for any season - Score: 8
From: The Journal News By: Jacques Le Sourd Publication Date: 11/07/2005
The songs - and you may be amazed to realize how many hits there were, from the early '60s on - are all flawlessly delivered, without sounding canned. The book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice is a little long on narration, and you may find your eyes glazing over until the point, two-thirds of the way through the first act, when the boys break into television with an appearance on "American Bandstand." From that point on, though, you snap awake and happily ride the wave.
Jersey Boys: Welcome to Falsettoland - Score: 8
From: BroadwayWorld.com By: Michael Dale Publication Date: 12/04/2005
Now we have Jersey Boys; an exceedingly fun and electrifyingly staged tale of the rise and fall of The Four Seasons, which smartly uses their hit songs as a sort of background soundtrack to the story of a group of blue-collar guys establishing a distinctive sound during the early years of rock and roll. They sing songs on stages, in clubs, and in recording studios, but, aside from a couple of missteps, never as part of a book scene. And yet director Des McAnuff, by being very stingy with applause breaks until the audience is ready to burst, and bookwriters Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, by deftly weaving the dialogue in and out of the music, have found a method to use songs to fuel the story without overwhelming it. Fans of The Four Seasons may walk in excited to hear familiar favorites like "Sherry", "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Rag Doll" and "Walk Like a Man", but they should leave the theatre impressed with how plot-driven the entire production is without ever short-handing the music. The jukebox musical has found its Pal Joey; a bit flawed, but ambitious, gritty, clever and professional.
From Blue-Collar Boys to Doo-Wop Sensation: A Band's Rise and Fall - Score: 7
From: New York Times By: Ben Brantley Publication Date: 11/07/2005
In a year in which one pop-songbook show after another has thudded and died, "Jersey Boys," a shrink-wrapped musical biography of the pop group the Four Seasons, passes as silver instead of as the chrome-plated jukebox that it is. Unlike the recent Broadway flops, this show has the advantage of featuring singers that actually sound like the singers they are portraying and a technology-enhanced band that approximates the original sound of their music. Scriptwriters Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice provide some likably sassy dialogue as they chart the evolution of their main characters from street kids in the urban wastelands of New Jersey to pop gods enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But while "Jersey Boys" is based on fact, it rarely leaps over the cliches of a regulation grit-to-glamour blueprint.
'Boys' hits right notes in homage to Valli - Score: 7
From: USA Today By: Elysa Gardner Publication Date: 11/07/2005
In following its working-class heroes as they climb the ladder up to fortune and fame, Boys offers a familiar blend of self-conscious populism and knee-jerk sentimentality. Luckily, co-librettists Rick Elice and veteran film and TV writer Marshall Brickman — whose previous collaborators include Woody Allen, Johnny Carson and Dick Cavett — manage to mitigate the muck with flashes of easygoing wit. Director Des McAnuff, who cut his rock 'n' roll teeth overseeing the Broadway debut of The Who's Tommy, also helps keep the proceedings brisk and breezy. Scenic designer Klara Zieglerova fashions a whimsical tone, with campy period cartoons projected on screens.
Jersey Boys - Score: 7
From: Variety By: David Rooney Publication Date: 11/07/2005
O.K, so the book is clunky, the backstory is emotionally skeletal and the structure sticks to a generic "VH1 Behind the Music" model, but glance around the newly rechristened August Wilson Theater during the songs in "Jersey Boys" at the middle-age women dancing in their seats while their husbands' heads bop to the music and it's clear something is connecting. Then go dive in among the leopard-print outfits and thick "Sopranos" accents in the lobby at intermission and it becomes even clearer. If this musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons can reach its core audience of baby boomers and partisan home-staters, it could become a sizable hit.
Music Men (scroll down for Jersey Boys) - Score: 7
From: New Yorker By: John Lahr Publication Date: 11/07/2005
This is direct, pedal-to-the-metal stuff, without nuance, irony, or wit-the sound, as the show insists, of the working people. Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice have written a clever book, which should become the template for this kind of musical excavation; it sets up the songs with well-judged humor and the elegant strokes of observation that the Four Seasons repertoire lacks. At one point, during Valli's first date with Mary (Jennifer Naimo), the baleboste who becomes his first wife, she asks why he spells his invented Italian surname with a 'y' and not an 'i.' - 'Y' is such a bullshit letter,' she says. 'It doesn?t know what it is. Is it a vowel' Is it a consonant?' 'Jersey Boys' knows exactly what it is: a money tree. The audience is tickled to death, but, given enough of these ersatz events, Broadway musical theatre may be, too.
Raucous in Secaucus - Score: 7
From: New York Magazine By: Jeremy McCarter Publication Date: 11/21/2005
Not to take anything away from the actual, you know, band, but the show's charm is primarily Des McAnuff's doing. The director has no illusions about what drives this sort of show. Jersey Boys may aim only to be a shallow, big-budget, crowd-pleasing jukebox musical, but it's a model of the genre. Admire first the deftness of the storytelling by librettists Marshall Brickman (who co-wrote Annie Hall) and Rick Elice. From the hardscrabble early scenes, which mostly involve band members- rotating in and out of jail ('the Rahway Academy of the Arts,' as the scholar-in-residence DeVito puts it), the script uses a Scorsese trick to race the action along: The boys' narration propels the story by layering exposition right over the songs. Sugar and medicine are calibrated so finely that, almost before you realize it, the boys have traded their horrible clashing pink shirts for the true badge of early-sixties pop success, matching maroon blazers. Buongiorno, groupies.
Jersey Boys - Score: 6
From: Hollywood Reporter By: Frank Scheck Publication Date: 11/07/2005
This latest example of the burgeoning jukebox musical genre eschews the common method of shoehorning pop songs into a contrived plot. Instead, it relates the rags-to-riches story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, taking care along the way to provide pitch-perfect versions of their many chart-topping hits. Unfortunately, the group's story is not particularly interesting, at least compared to those sagas related in such recent musical biopics as "Ray" and "Walk the Line."
What's That Noise From Across the River? An Old Movie Soundtrack Remixed? - Score: 5
From: Village Voice By: Michael Feingold Publication Date: 11/08/2005
Is my cultural autobiography so fascinating? No, but frankly, neither is Frankie Valli's. At least as assembled by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, the tale of how the Four Seasons came together, sold a lot of records, and subsequently fell apart because Bob Gaudio wanted to stay home and write songs, while Tommy DeVito racked up nasty gambling debts with the Mob, is no big deal—just another biopic immortalizing a minor celeb's quick rise and a bumpy fall, only in flesh-and-blood 3-D.
Season Bleatings (scroll down for review) - Score: 2
From: Wall Street Journal By: Terry Teachout Publication Date: 11/07/2005
Yet another jukebox musical has come to town, and this time I don’t feel like arguing—much. For reasons not obvious to me, “Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons” is not only giving pleasure to paying theatergoers (that part I get) but has also passed muster with certain critics who should know better. Contrary to anything you’ve read elsewhere, it’s nothing more than 32 songs performed on a cheap-looking set by a high-priced lounge band, strung together like dimestore pearls on the most vapid of all-tell-no-show books.
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