BWW Review: JERSEY BOYS: THE STORY OF FRANKIE VALLI & THE FOUR SEASONS, Oh, What a Night! at Theatre League, Broadway in Wichita
On a cold, snowy night in Wichita, Jersey Boys played to a packed house at Century II on Tuesday February 19, 2019. The jukebox musical tells the biographical story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, one of the most best-selling groups of all time. Presented through NETworks Presentations, the cast was spearheaded by Jonathan Cable, Eric Chambliss, Corey Greenan and Jonny Wexler as the fabulous core of that famous quartet.
The set could quite possibly be seen in a modern-day concert and was easily manipulated to become a recording studio or the home of Frankie Vali. Set pieces also rolled in on tracks or from the fly system that made scene changes fast and seamless. One scene that was striking took place at a church towards the top of show for the song Sunday Kind of Love. Projections on a big, Jumbotron of a screen aided in the presentation of the setting particularly when the camera was rolling for live video footage on the musical group, making the production even more exciting and engaging.
The show itself was comprised of a total of fifteen professional actors and actresses that played an ensemble of multiple characters. Cast standouts included Wade Dooley, who played Bob Crewe, Donnie, and a judge. Actress Jessica Wockenfuss portrayed Miss Frankie Nolan and was an Angel soloist for the number My Boyfriend's Back. Both did an extraordinary job taking on a multitude of characters as well as eccentric song and dance numbers. Speaking of which, some notable numbers were Go Ape and Cry for Me, taking the audience back to the 1960s.
At first, pacing, dialogue, and story can be a lot to take in, chiefly because of lots and lots of exposition and narration. Luckily, the four principals tackled the challenge with effective delivery of said monologues and crooning solos. Eric Chambliss (Bob Gaudio) exceptionally stole the show by doing so. The audience would hush to listen to his soliloquys and heavenly vocal instrument especially during the title song December 1963 (Oh, What a Night.) A Broadway veteran, it was apparent that this national tour is lucky to have such a talent as Chambliss traveling the United States, allowing the country to hear him act and sing. Jonathan Cable (Nick Massi) had a wonderful bass voice and definitely followed Chambliss' speed in the second act. Playing a tough dealing boy from Jersey was Corey Greenan (Tommy DeVito). Greenan had effective character choices and development with some great one-liners that sent the audience rolling in laughter. Lastly, Jonny Wexler fit the role of Frankie Valli perfectly, with his falsetto notes earning him well-deserved, thunderous applause at the conclusion of the production. And that's when I realized we have some of the best, most appreciative audience and theatregoers in Wichita. We would welcome the Jersey Boys to our city anytime.