BWW Review: JERSEY BOYS at Robinson Performance Hall
The first show of the fall at Little Rock's Robinson Performance Hall is a rollicking, rambunctious, rock and roll joy ride. Jersey Boys is the exciting and unbelievable story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The book, which does an amazing job of weaving the show through several decades, was written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. The music by Bob Gaudio with lyrics by Bob Crewe, who created some of the most iconic songs is both nostalgic and fresh. A full house sang and clapped along and on several occasions stopped the show with exuberant applause.
Jersey Boys shows the rise of four New Jersey guys, who go from singing under street lamps and in bowling alleys to the heights of international fame. The members all get the chance to tell their version of the story. Tommy DeVito, Corey Greenan, starts it all off. Corey has just the right amount of bravado and charm to make you believe that he was the brains that got it all going. Nick Massi played by Jonathan Cable is the stoic bass of the group. Jonathan plays him with a low key power and smooth charm until a hilarious rant in the Second Act, that comes out of nowhere to the delight of the entire audience. Jonny Wexler as Frankie Valli is superb. He is both innocent and earnest in the beginning and we get to enjoy is evolution as the true superstar he becomes. The group really takes off with the introduction of Bob Gaudio, as played with confidence and cool by Eric Chambliss.
The harmonies...oh, those harmonies. All the actors in this production have incredible voices but the harmonies as sung by the afore mentioned performers are absolutely phenomenal. For people who already know the songs, it's such a powerful reminder of a musical style that is sadly missing today. For anyone not familiar, it's an unforgettable evening of gorgeous music performed by singers whose voices come together in a musical blend rarely heard anymore. You don't just listen to this music, it overwhelms you. This is not the music of your parents or grandparents, it's timeless music that will never die.
The set for this production allows the fast transition from different times and places without missing a beat. Using the upper level walkway that helps frame the stage and the projections, there is not a wasted moment or space. Another aspect that must be mentioned are the marvelous actors that play the multitude of smaller yet important parts throughout the show. These are performers that create such memorable moments it's easy to see each of them taking over a show and making it their own.
The combination of humor, heartbreak and talent make this one of the most unforgettable evenings of theatre you will ever have. Whether you knew anything about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons before this night, you will be swept away by this magnificent production. The entire company seemed to be having so much fun, it was infectious. The songs will stick with you and make you smile long after the final note has been played. It's almost "too good to be true", but it is!