BWW Review: Oh, What a Night! JERSEY BOYS Returns to California Musical Theatre
Fresh off of the 12th longest run in Broadway history, Jersey Boys returns to Sacramento after a four year absence. Jersey Boys is the Tony, Grammy, and Olivier Award winning biographical account of the rise and fall of the musical powerhouse, The Four Seasons. Baby boomers arrived en masse to the Community Center Theatre to be entertained by music from their youth and were not disappointed with the dynamic performance of this touring cast.
The show opens with a French rap interpretation of "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" that was so out of place that I am still wondering what relevance it possessed. It then took a step backward in time to the beginning of the group that would become The Four Seasons. We see Tommy DeVito discovering Frankie Valli and grooming him until his signature voice develops. Along the way are their many run-ins with the law, with jail taking some original band members. Frankie finally settles on the requisite fourth member due to a fortuitous relationship with Joe Pesci (yes, the actor). Pesci introduces the group to Bob Gaudio, who was already a successful songwriter with "(Who Wears) Short Shorts" under his belt.
Following a meteoric rise to stardom with "Sherrie", "Big Girls Don't Cry", and "Walk Like a Man", the group begins to unravel. Leading the demise is Tommy, who mires himself in such debt that Frankie feels obligated to step in to save him, with the promise that Tommy leave the group. Shortly thereafter, their group is reduced to two as Nick Massi decides that he is tired of a life on the road and returns home. Frankie is forced to play small venues all over the United States in order to chip away at the debt he has committed to pay. Bob Gaudio decides that the best way to put Frankie back on the map is to add four backup singers and become Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.
Thanks to Bob's genius, Frankie makes a comeback with "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and "Working My Way Back to You". While on top, he realizes that nothing good lasts forever as he suffers devastating personal blows and reminisces that, "when everything dropped away and there was the music-that was the best." That seems to be what the audience thought, also. Everything dropped away and they were transported to a carefree youth full of new sounds and promise. It was an evening to leave worries behind and just experience the joy that music brings.
A top-notch cast was led by the amazing Four Seasons-Tommaso Antico (Bob Gaudio), Corey Greenan (Tommy DeVito), Chris Stevens (Nick Massi), and Jonny Wexler (Frankie Valli) embodied the sound and crisp moves of the original group. Their palpable energy and electrifying numbers leapt off of the stage and captured everyone for the duration of the show. Wexler's uncanny mimicry of Valli's falsetto made him all the more believable. It is a showcase of glitz, drama and dreams coming true.
Jersey Boys plays at California Musical Theatre from January 30-February 4. Tickets can be obtained at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office at 1419 H St., Sacramento, or by calling (916) 557-1999. They can also be purchased at the Community Center Theatre Box Office at 1301 L St., Sacramento, by calling (916) 808-5181, or by visiting tickets.com.
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
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