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'Jersey Boys' In Las Vegas: Two Years Old And Better Than Ever

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Last night Las Vegas wished Jersey Boys a happy second birthday and the Jersey Boys thanked the city with a performance that was brilliant.

It is, of course, the same show that debuted here in 2008. Much of the cast is the same and the music is still fun to revisit. But this time it was different. I was not alone in believing that the production has improved with age. Several people who had seen it before were overheard saying just that. So, what was it?

Could it have been the presence of Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio at the show? Well, it was fun to be able to see them watch the show. Both seemed to be having a great time. But that wasn't it.

Could it have been the sets and the theater? Certainly the theater is a nice one, built especially in the Palazzo Casino Hotel for this poduction. But there are other, more spectacular theaters in Las Vegas. Here. sometimes-odd sightlines and actors often block other actors but I guess that happens fairly often. And the sets are the same as on Broadway. Very cleverly executed.

Perhaps it was the audience's enthusiasm. But, no, we've all seen shows and films that everyone loved and come away wondering what the fuss was all about.

No, it was absolutely the performances, particularly that of Rick Faugno as Frankie. Since I saw him at the press night in 2008 he has grown, flourished, in the role. Faugno has the voice, the acting chops and, most of all, the thorough knowledge of his character. For those two hours he is Frankie Vallli and believably takes his character from teenage boy-with-a-great-voice to adult man who has dealt with a range of problems and issues in his life. Though, to be fair, I have to say I haven't seen the alternate Frankie, Travis Cloer, I stil believe Faugno's is a superb performance.

The other three seasons — Jeff Liebow (Nick Massi), Devin May (Tommy DeVito) and Peter Saide (Bob Gaudio) — are equally good. It is clear that they singers were cast both to talent and physical type. They struck gold with this cast.

At the end of the performance, Valli and Gaudio were called onstage and Kevin Gore, of Rhino  Records, joined them to present a platinum record to Valli and Gaudio for the the one millionth sale of the Jersey Boys original cast recording — more than any cast album has ever sold. Then a huge "platinum record" cake was brought out.

If you haven't seen the show, put it on your "must" list. If you have, go again. It is wonderful.

For information and tickets, visit The Palazzo Las Vegas.

Photo above (from left): Travis Cloer, Jeff Leibow, Frankie Valli, Deven May, Peter Saide, Rick Faugno, Bob Gaudio and Kevin Gore (Rhino Records). Photo: Erik Kabik/Retna

 


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