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Review: JERSEY BOYS at Fulton Theatre

Just Too Good to Be True!

Jersey Boys made its local premiere at Fulton Theatre recently. While there were certain pandemic related setbacks and obstacles, it was definitely worth the wait. Fulton's production of Jersey Boys is an amazing combination of blockbuster songs, amazing harmonies, and engaging storytelling.

While, I have seen a number of jukebox musicals recently, most of them downplay, if not totally ignore the flaws of the musicians being portrayed. Not so, with Jersey Boys. The show is an unflinching narrative of the good, the bad, and the ugly of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The characters are as rough and raw as the Jersey streets that they grew up on. Unlike many other jukebox musicals, Jersey Boys requires a cast with some decent acting chops, and the Fulton cast does not disappoint. Note, if you bring Grandma to the show, give her a heads up that most of the characters frequently, yet authentically, use the language of the streets. (I say this because I heard a few gasps around me after the show's first "F-bomb" was dropped).

Jonathan Mousset stars as Frankie Valli. I had the pleasure of seeing Frankie Valli in concert just last year, and I am happy to say that Mousset is the real deal. His voice, his looks, his mannerisms are both dazzling and accurate. Mousset's nuanced performance allows the audience to love Valli's music, while not always necessarily liking the man's life choices.

At my performance, Nicolas Dromard played the complex role of bandmate and Four Seasons founder, Tommy DeVito. Dromard instantly and expertly brings audience likability to a character known for being insecure and self-absorbed.

Matthew Amira and John Battagliese round out the core four, as Nick Massi and Bob Gaudio, the remaining members of the band. Both Amira and Battagliese provide luscious harmonies, great dance moves, and a bit of humor to an otherwise mostly dramatic show.

The supporting cast was especially complementary, with many of them playing multiple parts. Tony Lawrence Clements and Joshua William Green were among my favorites. I was flabbergasted to see only four actresses come out for curtain calls. With so many small, but important female roles in the show, I was expecting probably twice as many.

The set is abstract, yet simple. The two tiers allows for actors to be in differing locations simultaneously. The vibrant eight piece orchestra is somewhat hidden within the set piece, but they slide out, in prominence, throughout the show. This happened, most notably, during Valli's second act showstopper, "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You".

The show, with intermission, is a solid three hours. It is a little on the long side, but there is a lot of story to cover. It is partially the "curse" of doing a musical based on a supergroup with such a lengthy and extensive catalog.

Jersey Boys is a great way to spend a summer evening. It's a show about clean-cut music performed by guys with some dirt underneath their fingernails.

From This Author - Rich Mehrenberg

Rich Mehrenberg was introduced to the magic of theater when he played "The Boy" in his first grade class production of "The Giving Tree". It has been a long term love affair ever... (read more about this author)

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