BWW Review: JERSEY BOYS On Tour At Centre in the Square
The touring company of JERSEY BOYS has made its current stop in Kitchener, Ontario at Centre in The Square. I had the opportunity to catch the first performance on Tuesday night, and 'Oh What a Night' it was! This musical is clearly still going strong and the audience loved every moment of it.
Set to the unforgettable music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, this is the story of four guys from New Jersey who created a unique sound, and despite, or perhaps because of their differences, found a moment in time where they became a sensation. Like with a family, these guys seemingly didn't have a choice when it came to becoming a group. They found each other and they found a sound and there really was no looking back. Also like a family, they had their struggles, differences, and falling-outs. Each character's perspective is shared through their own narrative throughout the show. Each guy is flawed, but likeable in his own way. The story is very relatable-from feelings of loyalty and betrayal, to the struggles of balancing a "home family" and a "road family", the experience of the Four Seasons, though completely unique to these four guys, is at the same time incredibly relatable to everyone.
Although JERSEY BOYS has been around for over a decade, this was my first time actually seeing it performed. The excitement I felt as the lights grew dark in the beautiful Centre in the Square, was only elevated as the figures of the 4 iconic band members hit the stage.
The entire company is fantastic. There was a visible shift in the audience as Aaron De Jesus hit his first high notes as Frankie Valli. It almost appeared as if some audience members were transported back in time. People excitedly looked at one another as if to say, "This is the real deal. Its happening", others started quietly singing along to familiar tunes. From the very start, this dashing cast had the audience in the palms of their hands. Mr. De Jesus' talents go far beyond his singing though. His performance is breathtaking as we see Frankie grow up from a gullible young eager-to-please kid, to a successful performer, and tortured friend and father. Also breathtaking are the other 3 members of the Four Seasons. As the young and sexually inexperienced, yet, talented and business-savy Bob Gaudio, Drew Seeley is dashing and funny. As Nick Massi, the self-proclaimed 'Ringo' of the group, Keith Hines is absolutely fantastic at portraying a character who at first, may seem somewhat bland and simple, but in reality is in fact made up of layers of complexity. His delivery of his lines had the audience in hysterics, and his monologue near the end of the show had us all wanting to give him a hug. Lastly, there is Matthew Daily as Tommy DeVito. I think it is fair to say, that everyone knows a Tommy DeVito. The guy who does all the wrong things for...mostly the right reasons; the guy who thinks he's helping but mostly just complicates things further; the guy who you feel forever indebted to and who, if not for circumstance, could have been you. Mr. De Jesus and Mr. Daily beautifully portray this dynamic between Frankie and Tommy. In addition to the four leads, the rest of the company shines in this production as well.
The set, costuming, direction, etc. is straight from the Broadway production and it continues to feel shiny and new. What really makes this musical work though, is the wonderful music. There are so many memorable tunes in this show, from "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You", to "Sherry", to "Big Girls Don't Cry". "Walk Like a Man", etc. Few people left the theatre without humming one of those hits on their way out.
JERSEY BOYS is only in town until November 15th, and it is most definitely worth seeing, so be sure to get your tickets
Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel