Review: A Triumphant JERSEY BOYS Debuts at the La Mirada Theatre

Co-Produced by McCoy Rigby Entertainment and 3-D Theatricals, this spectacular new So.Cal. regional production hits the right notes

By: Apr. 26, 2024
Review: A Triumphant JERSEY BOYS Debuts at the La Mirada Theatre
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It has been quite a while since I've seen a production of the surprisingly captivating, nostalgia-filled hit jukebox musical JERSEY BOYS here in Southern California, and, well, as one might've predicted, the show's brand-new, reimagined regional iteration that recently debuted at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts—a co-production of McCoy Rigby Entertainment and 3-D Theatricals—exceeds all expectations.

Directed by 3-D Theatricals' own artistic director T.J. Dawson—armed with a discernible, and ultimately successful aim to, more than anything, dazzle and entertain—this spectacular, high-energy, crowd-pleasing new production continues performances in the city of La Mirada through May 12, 2024.

For the few out there still unaware of its existence, JERSEY BOYS is the Tony and Grammy Award-winning biographical stage musical that chronicles the real-life rise to fame and eventual breakup of the iconic 1960's rock 'n' roll group, The Four Seasons, arguably one of the most successful pop groups of the last century.

The musical was initially conceived by Bob Gaudio, one of the group's original members and their main songwriter, but, eventually, the show will evolve to feature a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, incorporating the pop hits composed by Gaudio and lyricist Bob Crewe.

The show first premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2004, receiving critical acclaim and significant buzz. Its success in La Jolla led to a Broadway transfer, where it officially opened in November of 2005. The production was an instant smash hit, thanks to its engaging storytelling and, of course, all those Four Seasons earworms that found renewed verve on stage.

In a riveting, much more interesting departure from other fact-based jukebox musicals, JERSEY BOYS—set against the backdrop of the blue-collar and often mob-controlled neighborhoods of the Garden State—unfolds through a series of flashbacks, each narrated directly to the audience by a different member of the band, offering multiple perspectives on their journey to stardom.

This narrative machination instantly gives the show many fascinating, perhaps even skewed points of view, but it also allows the audience to delve deeper into the characters' motivations and experiences that have been tinged with seemingly factual first-person testimonials "directly orated" by the very people who lived them.

Thus, through the course of the musical, we witness—like an old-school VH1 Behind the Music documentary—their humble beginnings as a group of friends singing under street lamps in their neighborhood, their struggles to make ends meet, and even their encounters with loan sharks and organized crime.

The appealing characters in JERSEY BOYS are portrayed with discernible depth and complexity, showcasing both their strengths and flaws with equal weight. Each member of The Four Seasons is fleshed out well (well, maybe some more than others), allowing the invested audience to genuinely empathize with their struggles and cheer on their triumphs.

As The Four Seasons begin to gain traction in the music industry, they, as one would expect, face numerous challenges, both personal and professional.

The group's hot-headed founder is the volatile, foul-mouthed Tommy DeVito—played here by the charismatic Chris Fore—who initially guides them from impromptu street corner harmonizing to a few small-time gigs thanks to his raw talent, charming tenacity, and street smarts. However, his continued penchant for trouble, which includes dealings with petty crime, the mob, and some financial mismanagement—compounded by his short temper—all threaten to derail the band's success.

Tommy does, though, have a discerning eye (and ear) for talent. First he recruits pal Nick Massi (the dashing and hardworking Blake Burgess) to join the group as their bassist (interrupted briefly by a stint in prison), then, later, his best stroke of luck comes in the form of a plucky, but earnest kid from the neighborhood who isn't even old enough to vote yet nor has even kissed a girl.

That kid, of course, ends up becoming the group's uniquely-voiced lead singer, Frankie Valli, played admirably here by Noah Rivera, whom Tommy takes under his wing. Blessed with a soaring, angelic falsetto voice that would become the group's trademark sound, Valli is instrumental in propelling the group to stratospheric fame. Without a doubt, JERSEY BOYS definitely paints him as a sympathetic protagonist, who valiantly grapples with personal and professional challenges as a worthwhile side effect of pursuing success.

The final puzzle piece they still needed eventually becomes the fourth and last permanent member to join the group: a smart, gifted songwriter named Bob Gaudio—played by the adorkably compelling Taubert Nadalini—who becomes the group's savvy chief creative nucleus and Valli's biggest ally and cheerleader. If Valli is the group's heart, then Gaudio is portrayed as its soul and conscience, a creatively-driven workhorse who doesn't seek personal fame but wouldn't mind boosting others natural talent to gain theirs.

Amidst the whirlwind of fame and creative fulfillment, the original foursome that make up the Four Seasons navigate a myriad of personal and professional challenges, including conflicts within the group, strained personal relationships, and even hurtful betrayals. Despite these dramatic highs and lows (and their eventual disbandment), their bond and love for music ultimately prevail—particularly when they reunite decades later as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, and, of course, as the subject of this admirably enjoyable hit musical.

With this great material to work with, it comes as no surprise that both McCoy Rigby and 3-D Theatricals (welcome back, you guys!) would pull off a true triumph.

Highly entertaining from captivating start to rousing finish, La Mirada's Broadway-caliber presentation pretty much excels in all it offers—everything from scenic designer Stephen Gifford's vibrantly theatrical approximation of 60's New Jersey and choreographer Dana Solimando's groovy dance moves, to the show's exceptional collective of musicians led by musical director Allen Everman, and, without question, the talented ensemble cast led by the four excellent actors who've been tasked to embody the titular song stylists.

As individual actors, Burgess, Fore, Nadalini, and Rivera are all superb in their respective portraits of their real-life rock star counterparts, but they make absolute musical magic when they all sing together, and their palpable chemistry and expert harmonies gel so beautifully.

As Nick, Burgess proves he is adept at both serious moments and comedic delivery, while Fore, as fiery Tommy is incredibly enthralling in his volatility and vulnerability. Nadalini, as the slightly nerdy Bob Gaudio, successfully conveys the show's most relatable character (and his acting work during scenes at a celebratory party show a cute panache for self-effacing humor, too). Vocally, all three sound pretty freakin' amazing.

And despite a slightly tentative vocal start navigating those Valli-high notes, Rivera progressively hits his groove as the show forges on, easily eschewing any doubts about his musical abilities and his resoluteness to inhabit this showy role. His penultimate number of "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" is just—chef's kiss—perfecto.

Besides its four charismatic leads, a few standouts also emerged from within its incredibly talented ensemble, who all take on multiple roles throughout the show.

As a young, squirrelly Joey Pesci (yes, that eventual Oscar winner Joe Pesci), the playful Gian Raffaele DiCostanzo is fun to watch. As Mary Delgado, Valli's alcoholic future ex-wife and the woman responsible for giving Frankie his stage (last) name, Marlana Dunn easily straddles seductive and, later, exasperated as she portrays a woman who is forced to raise a child alone with an absent husband off touring and entertaining the world. Andy Lendermon is also noteworty as Bob Crewe, the producer and lyricist who took a gamble on the four boys.

Of course, it's almost implausible not to imbed mobsters into JERSEY BOYS, so this production found a pair of great actors to take them on. Dominic Pace is effectively menacing as mob boss Gyp DeCarlo, while Johnny DiGiorgio—affecting a speaking cadence that sounds remarkably like the gangster on The Simpsons—is also an intimidating presence as debt-collecting mobster Norm Waxman.

Review: A Triumphant JERSEY BOYS Debuts at the La Mirada Theatre
The cast of JERSEY BOYS at La Mirada Theatre.
Photo by Jason Niedle.

And, finally, playing multiple small but memorable roles throughout the show, the infectiously joyful Michael Ray Fisher effectively steals the show with each ham-tastic appearance, showcasing a knack for making individual minor characters stand out from the rest (I basically smiled and giggled every time he came on stage to play someone else), and proving the adage that there are indeed no small parts for someone with such a huge personality. The big bonus surprise comes during the closing number where Fisher is given the spotlight to wail some amazing stratospherically high vocal riffs that almost tore the roof off of the place. Bravo, sir! Consider me one of your newest fans.

But, of course, audiences most likely came to see this production of JERSEY BOYS to hear the hits—and this show, naturally, delivers.

The songs of The Four Seasons is the piercing core of the musical, and they shine brightly throughout the production, especially as performed by this incredible cast. The catchy tunes and memorable lyrics definitely satiate people's cravings for this kind of nostalgia, transporting audiences back to the heyday of 1960s/1970s pop music that these boys help put on the charts.

While most traditional musicals integrate songs as extensions of dialogue and story to advance the plot or illuminate characters' inner feelings and emotions, here, the songs serve as mostly timeline guideposts, which still works for me in moving the action forward (a few songs do get their moments as punctuations to significant events that happen in the story, but I won't spoil them here).

Standout performances of classic hits like "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like A Man," "December, 1963 (Oh What A Night!)," and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" definitely leave a lasting impression. In the hands of this production's orchestra and ensemble cast, the songs are as lively as ever.

With its exhilarating energy, unforgettable soundtrack, and compelling storytelling, JERSEY BOYS honorably pays homage to the timeless music of this talented foursome, while offering audiences a heightened glimpse into their tumultuous, dramatically high-pressure world behind the scenes. It's certainly a groove-tastic journey through the highs and lows of fame, friendship, and the pursuit of the American dream.

Ultimately, JERSEY BOYS is an exciting stage show that touches on themes of loyalty, friendship, and the cost of fame. As seen in its compellingly presented narrative, the titular foursome do reach the pinnacle of success, but are subsequently forced to confront the consequences of their choices and the toll it takes on their relationships. Despite their eventual breakup, the musical celebrates the enduring legacy of their music and the bonds that unite them, both on and off the stage.

Review: A Triumphant JERSEY BOYS Debuts at the La Mirada Theatre
Johnny DiGiorgio, Noah Rivera and Quintan Craig (center).
Photo by Jason Niedle.

If you're already a huge fan of the show, then La Mirada's superb new production will surely reignite your nostalgic love for it. And if you've never experienced the show before, this one is a must-see and will definitely knock your socks off!

Follow this reviewer on Instagram / Twitter X / Threads: @cre8iveMLQ.


Photos by Jason Niedle, courtesy of La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Performances of the McCoy Rigby / 3-D Theatricals production of JERSEY BOYS at The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts continue through Sunday, May 12, 2024. The theater is located at 14900 La Mirada Boulevard in the city of La Mirada, CA. Parking is Free. For tickets, visit or call (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310.



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