BWW Review: JERSEY BOYS New National Tour Begins at Landmark Theatre in Syracuse
JERSEY BOYS, the harmonious hit jukebox musical with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe, and a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, is touring the country again. The latest national tour of the audience-pleasing Tony Award-winning musical started off last week in Syracuse's historic Landmark Theatre. Local audiences were treated to a stellar production under the superb direction of Des McAnuff.
JERSEY BOYS, of course, explores the creation of the Four Seasons, the group's success, and its eventual break-up in the 1960s. While the introduction of young music phenom Frankie Valli to the music world is - unsurprisingly - an integral part of the story, the show itself plays like a documentary of the entire group. Each band member narrates a separate "season," offering his personal perspective about a certain moment in the band's well-established history. In addition to the history lesson, audiences can revel in hearing the group's familiar musical numbers once again, sung by some very talented vocalists supported by a fabulous orchestra under the direction of Taylor Peckham. These songs are a key ingredient to what made Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons stars in the music industry. The Four Seasons had a special sound that was unlike anything that the music world had heard before, and the singers capture that in this production.
The Syracuse audience was instantly hooked as soon as the fabulous orchestra played the first few familiar notes of "Oh, What a Night," and for good reason. Other creative elements made it an exceptional night of theatergoing. Howell Binkley's lighting makes each and every audience member feel like he or she is really are attending a Four Seasons' concert. Sergio Trujillo's energetic choreography is expertly executed and just ups the entertainment potential.
JERSEY BOYS would not be the success it is without a solid cast, and this tour has that in spades.
The star of the show, of course, is Aaron De Jesus portraying none other than Frankie Valli. Just like Valli, he may be short in stature, but his vocals shine sky high. His powerful falsetto soars on familiar tunes like "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "My Mother's Eyes," "Sherry," and "Rag Doll," just to name a few. However, De Jesus' true shining moment comes on the number "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." He truly captures Frankie Valli's growth as a singer, his loyalty to family, and pure raw talent.
Matthew Dailey also delivers a spot-on performance as the tough Jersey boy Tommy DeVito. He has a believable Jersey accent as well as a confident attitude that is fitting for his character. His standout number is "Earth Angel."
Cory Jeacoma as Bob Gaudio - the man who wrote all of those famous hit songs - also makes a positive impression. Jeacoma is both charming and mesmerizing, and is at his best when he is introducing all of the big hits that Bob Gaudio wrote such as "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man," and many more. He also entertains on "December , 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" thanks to his voice and comedic chops.
Keith Hines plays Nick Massi effortlessly. His line delivery leads to many scene-stealing moments, and provides some much needed comedic relief when the show delves into the trials and tribulations the group faced.
While the ensemble cast is also strong, I will say that the Angels' number "My Boyfriend's Back" was a bit too nasally for my taste. It does not represent the actual group very well. This moment aside, all of the girls prove they're strong actresses as they embody the various females who come in and out of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons' lives.
The national tour of JERSEY BOYS started off in Syracuse with a bang. Each and every moment is entertaining and it was a theatrical event that was not to be missed. The production provides an evening full of spectacular music, stellar acting, and amazing vocals.
Running Time: Two hours and thirty five minutes with one twenty minute intermission.
Guidance: Suitable for thirteen and older due to smoke, gun shots, drug references, sexual situations, and "authentic Jersey language."
JERSEY BOYS performed at the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse, New York as part of the Famous Artist Broadway Theatre Series Broadway in Syracuse from September 15, 2016 through September 18, 2016. For tickets and information on the tour visit their website at: http://www.jerseyboysinfo.com/tour/index.html.
For information and tickets for upcoming shows as part of the Famous Artist Broadway Theatre Series in Syracuse visit their website at http://www.nacentertainment.com/cities/syracuse/.
Photo by Jeremy Daniel.