Jersey Boys Comes To Las Vegas: 'Oh What A Night'

By: May. 06, 2008
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  It has finally happened. A hit Broadway musical - a Tony® Award-winner - has arrived in Las Vegas and it is the closest thing to both a Broadway experience and a genuine hit Broadway show this city has ever seen.

Yes, we have a terrific Spamalot (or, we do until it closes in July), a breathtaking Phantom and Mamma Mia! just celebrated a record five-year run here. But none of them quite manages to do what Jersey Boys does. Spamalot is funny and true to the spirit of the original, but it runs a mere 90 minutes. Phantom is laden with dazzling effects not seen in any other production but it runs just 95 minutes. Mamma Mia! runs it's full length, but it is a simple musical, with minimal sets, no arresting visuals and, while the performances are good, they entire show is just kind of sweet and gentle, a most pleasant evening in the theater.

But, as of tonight, we have Jersey Boys - a full-length, absorbing show with wonderful music, terrifically clever sets and excellent performances. We couldn't ask for more. The story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, in case you didn't know, is told through the eyes of each group member and its soundtrack is the soundtrack of their careers and of so many of our lives. The audience welcomes the songs with palpable warmth and lots of applause.

The greatest applause, however, is rightfully deserved for the performers. Rick Faugno's Frankie is a kid that, quite literally, learns to "Walk Like A Man," facing his failures and his problems with, in the end, great dignity. Erich Bergen's Bob Gaudio is the voice of reason, helping Frankie grow as a person and a singer.  Tommy DeVito, as played by Jeremy Kushnier, may be the bad guy of the piece, but he is likeable and charming, genuinely bowled over by a life he cannot control. Jeff Liebow plays Nick Massi, the fourth member of the original group, in a performance that exudes dignity and strength. He has, the others say, the most talent, but the relentless touring and the break-up of the original group, finally cause him to leave.

The performances are all so strong that you actually believe you are, first, watching Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and, second, that you didn't walk into the theater knowing anything about them. You cheer their victories, feel saddened by their sadness and - as if you'd never heard it before - love their music. And, when you think of how familiar the group and their music is to generations of Americans, you have to know how great the accomplishment of these four performers - and, for that matter, the entire cast - is. With the exception of the four leads, almost every cast member plays multiple parts. John Salvatore, as lyricist Bob Crewe and Ken Krugman are especially worth noting.

Marshall Brickman's and Rick Elice's book is a wonder, getting it all in - the stories and the points of view - tightly and clearly. Klara Zieglerove's sets and Howell Binkley's lighting are spectacular - until you think about them after the show, you don't realize how masterful they are. Des McAnuff's direction ties it all together so that every element of the entire evening is to be cherished.

The show is playing in its own new theater in the new Palazzo Hotel and Casino. Seating 1,730 people, the theater is a gem. It will shortly house some Four Seasons memorabilia from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and, in keeping with the show, the theater lobby has the feel of a vintage Caddy.

Jersey Boys deserves a long, healthy, joyous run in Las Vegas. But other shows have also merited long life on The Strip. Steve Wynn is closing Spamalot, which is still doing good business, and bringing in entertainer Danny Gans, a headliner here whose name is hardly known outside of town. Wynn, it seems, has relinquished his dream of Broadway West. One can only hope that, despite the economy that has seen audiences at every show here shrink in size, Jersey Boys keeps the dream alive and inspires others to dream, too.

Jersey Boys plays nightly except Wednesdays at 7 p.m. There are also 10 p.m. shows Tuesday and Saturday. Tickets range in price from $62.70 to $139.70.
There is also a $199.73 VIP Experience
For tickets, visit www.palazzolasvegas.com

Photo Credit Joan Marcus



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