BWW Review: JERSEY BOYS Wows at Aronoff Center
Being raised in a theatre centered family, I grew up knowing all the words to a few of the "Jersey Boys" hits: "Sherry," "My Boyfriend's Back," "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" and a few others. However, it took 14 years for me to finally see the musical onstage, but this national tour company made it well worth the wait.
"Jersey Boys" has been working its way back to Cincinnati audiences' hearts during the tour's run, which ends Sunday, at the Aronoff Center as the second show of the 2019-2020 Broadway in Cincinnati series.
This hit Broadway musical tells the story of how the legendary, American rock and pop band, The Four Seasons, came to be. As Tommy DeVito says at the start of the musical in reference to how the band's beginning, "you ask four guys, you get four different versions." And so, we do. See how singing under a streetlight one night changes everything for four men from Jersey, and thrusts them into the spotlight. Like most bands, there are significant ups and downs on the road to fame. Watch as each member tells his own viewpoint on the band's history and rock out to your favorite Four Seasons tunes along the way.
Leading the company as Frankie Valli is Cincinnati native, Jon Hacker. Hacker is an absolute delight as Frankie. At the beginning of the musical, Frankie is just a young, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed boy who has passion for music and an undeniable and unforgettable sound. Hacker seems like he's been shot out of a cannon when he enters, which is appropriate for Frankie's personality at the time, but he seems to grow with the character throughout the show, and he had the audience in the palm of his hand by the time he took the stage with "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" in Act 2. He was greeted with applause and happy sighs at the beginning of the number, but by the end, he had succeeded in deservedly stopping the show. Hacker's voice seems to effortlessly glide along Frankie's incredibly difficult range, leaving the audience more dazzled with each song.
Eric Chambliss plays Bob Gaudio, the final piece to the band's puzzle piece. Every time he is onstage you can't help but smile because of the raw charm and likability that radiates from him. The minute the spotlight hits Chambliss and he sings the first lyrics of "December, 1963," I knew that number was going to be in my top highlights of the night. Chambliss' voice is seemingly flawless and he brings such a sweet, slightly nerdy side to Gaudio, which makes sense with Gaudio being the youngest and most innocent of the group, even though he's well beyond his years in business intellect and songwriting abilities.
I truly don't think I stopped smiling the entire show, except for a heartbreaking moment in Act 2 where the vulnerability and chemistry that both Hacker and Amy Weaver (Francine) portray brings the show full circle, and allows the audience to see Frankie's role and obligations as a father in addition to an international pop/rockstar.
Who loves you, "Jersey Boys?" I certainly do. Don't miss your chance to see this feel-good musical before it leaves Sunday.
For tickets and more information about "Jersey Boys," tap here.