Review: JERSEY BOYS Works Its Way Back to Beverly

Encore production runs at Bill Hanney's North Shore Music Theatre through May 19

By: May. 14, 2024
Review: JERSEY BOYS Works Its Way Back to Beverly
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During the 2005–2006 Broadway season, four jukebox musicals came into New York. There was “Lennon,” about the late Beatle John Lennon, “Good Vibrations,” based on The Beach Boys, “All Shook Up,” with the music of Elvis Presley, and “Jersey Boys,” the non-fiction story of the life and music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

Only “Jersey Boys” – with music and lyrics by Bob Gaudio and others, and book by Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman – became a colossal hit, going on to win the 2006 Tony Award for Best Musical. Developed by director Des McAnuff during his time as artistic director at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse, the show ran for 4,642 performances, from 2005 to 2017, at New York’s August Wilson Theatre.

National and international tours of the musical – based on the lives of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, one of the most successful pop rock groups of the 1960’s and ’70s, with lead vocalist Valli, baritone vocalist and lead guitarist Tommy DeVito, bass vocalist Nick Massi on bass guitar, and tenor vocalist Bob Gaudio on keyboards – followed, as did a long-running sit-down production now at the Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Now, a high-energy “encore production” is onstage at Bill Hanney’s North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly through May 19, where it first played five years ago.

The story traces the group from its earliest iterations – when it was known variously as The Variatones, The Romans, The Village Voices, The Four Lovers, and more, until officially becoming The Four Seasons in 1960, and then Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in 1970, the moniker by which it’s known to this day – fueled by a score that includes almost every song on the group’s double-digit hit list, from “Oh, What a Night” and “My Eyes Adored You” to “Let’s Hang On,” “Bye Bye Baby,” “Working My Way Back to You,” and “Who Loves You?”

About 30 minutes into the first act, when the group becomes the Four Seasons, the performers turn and “Sherry” just explodes straight out at the audience. From there, the musical moves right into the next two number ones, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man,” by which point the audience is fully immersed in the compelling story and great musical ride that is “Jersey Boys.”

A good deal of the credit for the palpable excitement of the show’s many musical numbers goes to Kevin P. Hall’s always able direction and quick-footed choreography, and music director Milton Granger‘s tight 10-piece pit band.

The current NSMT production features a talented quartet of performers in the lead roles of the young men who cut their teeth on the rough-and-tumble streets of Newark, N.J. – Zane Zapata as the honorable and vocally gifted Valli, Chris Marsh Clark as the hot-headed DeVito, whose money troubles more than once plunge the group he founded into financial peril, Chris Stevens as the even-tempered Massi, a role he played in the recent off-Broadway company and on tour, and Aidan Cole as the young, sharply focused performer and songwriter Gaudio.

Doing stand-out work in supporting roles are NSMT stalwart Kevin B. McGlynn as the gravel-voiced Gyp De Carlo and other characters, and Barry Anderson, who gives a spot-on performance as record producer Bob Crewe – a role he played for six years in the Broadway and national touring companies of the show.

Alaina Mills – memorable as the hair-whipping Ann-Margret in last season’s NSMT production of “Elvis: A Musical Revolution” – is once again terrific as hot-tempered Mary Delgado, Valli’s first wife, a role she played in NSMT’s 2019 staging of “Jersey Boys.” And Ramone Nelson has some strong musical moments as a French rap star who does “Four Seasons” covers.

The spare but effective scenic design is provided by Kyle Dixon, while Dana Pinkston’s original costumes are coordinated here by Kelly Baker. Jose Santiago’s expert lighting design helps create the show’s various moods.

Photo caption: Chris Stevens, Chris Marsh Clark, Zane Zapata, and Aidan Cole in a scene from “Jersey Boys” at North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly through May 19, 2024. Photo © David Costa Photography.


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