The Column Online



The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice
Music by Bob Gaudio
Lyrics by Bob Crewe

Bass Hall, Fort Worth

Mary Delgado, Angel and others – ASHLEY BRUCE
Joey, French Rap Star, Det. One, Officer Petrillo, Crewe’s PA, Hal Miller, Barry Belson, Davis and others – RICK DESLOGE
Bob Crewe, Donnie, Accountant, Finney and others – WADE DOOLEY
Gyp DeCarlo, Nick DeVito, Billy Dixon, Charlie Caletto and others – TODD DuBAIL
Stosh, Norman Waxman, Det. Two, Hank Majewski, Police Officer, Recording Engineer, Accountant’s Assistant, Joe Long and others – KEVIN PATRICK MARTIN
Frankie’s Mother, Nick’s Date, Angel, Francine and others – CHLOE TISO
Frankie Valli – JONNY WEXLER
Church Lady, Angel, Lorraine, Miss Frankie Nolan, Bob’s Party Girl and others – JESSICA WOCKENFUSS
Music Director: Alan J. Plado; Associate Conductor: Michael Kaish; Keyboards: Tish Diaz, Michael Kaish, Alan J. Plado; Guitar: Max Caine; Bass: Ryan Berg; Drums: Brett Beiersdorfer; Music Coordinator: John Miller

Director: DES McANUFF
Choreographer: SERGIO TRUJILLO
Music Supervision, Vocal/Dance Arrangements, Incidental Music: RON MELROSE
Costume Design: JESS GOLDSTEIN
Lighting Design: HOWELL BINKLEY
Production Design: MICHAEL CLARK
Hair and Wig Design: CHARLES LAPOINTE
Projection Design: MICHAEL CLARK
Fight Director: STEVE RANKIN
Production Supervisor: RICHARD HESTER
Production Stage Manager: SUZANNE APICELLA
Ass’t Stage Manager: JUSTIN MYHRE
Orchestrations: STEVE ORICH
Music Coordinator: JOHN MILLER
Music Director: ALAN J. PLADO

Reviewed Performance: 2/12/2019

Reviewed by Stacey Upton, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

You know these songs. Sherry. Big Girls Don’t Cry. Walk Like a Man. December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night). My Eyes Adored You. Oh yes, you know them. For many of us they are the backbone of the soundtrack of our youth. It’s moving experience to see how those songs and this group came to be. In the packed house of the opening night performance of JERSEY BOYS at the Bass in Fort Worth, heads were bobbing, smiles blooming, and folks sang along with the marvelous performers onstage. The audience rose to its feet for a standing ovation before the final number was finished and stayed that way through the encore number. The cast and production crew deserved it. “Oh, What a Night,” indeed.

This fabulous production runs like clockwork, the seamless changing of scenes and costuming on the versatile two-story set maneuvered by the acting troupe in double time. Mikes slide onto stage on cue as the scenes flow from one to another in this moving and fun narrative about boys from Jersey who became famous. Creative projections on the rear wall add splashes of color and set place and time effortlessly. The costuming reflecting the 50s, 60s and 70s is wonderful, and the mood-setting, exciting lighting design one of the best this reviewer has seen in her fifty-plus years of attending theatre productions. This very definitely is Broadway come to life. I’d put this production in the DO NOT MISS category. There are seven more performances of this rousing show, and I recommend you get tickets.

Fabulous production numbers fill the stage. Twenty-two songs are blasted full force and full energy fill the first half of the show. Huge standouts sung in perfect harmonies were “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man.” A quieter but moving moment was embodied by the shaping of “My Eyes Adored You” sung by Valli, Mary Delgado, and the Four Seasons. Another twelve production numbers filled the second half, ending with the full company in a rousing rendition of “Who Loves You?” The biggest showstopper of the evening happens in the second act with the full company and lots of brass joining in Wexler’s fantastic vocals to bring us “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”

The musical is very much about the music of The Four Seasons and Frankie Valli as well as some other songs of the time – you will know them as well – but the real strength of JERSEY BOYS is the book. This is storytelling at its finest. There are four stories and four opinions here, and each of the members of the core group gets to tell it like HE saw things. The rest of the cast doubles and triples up on roles as the people the group meet in their journey through life. No one misses a beat as they swirl from scene to scene; some happy, upbeat and very funny, others fraught with drama – as one of the characters states; “you’re dealing with Italians, after all.” This production is literally seamless and a pure delight from the very opening moments narrated by Tommy DeVito, baritone vocalist, guitarist, founding member of what would become the Four Seasons and self-described “stand up guy.”

“There are three ways out of this neighborhood. You join the army, you mob up, or you get famous.” states Tommy. As portrayed by energetic Corey Greenan with his chest puffed out and a confidant swagger, Tommy is the cock of the walk, ready to fight or give you a hard time or boost your car. It’s a character you could easily dislike, but in Greenan’s hands you like the guy – most of the time. Greenan’s strong vocals and smooth stage movement are top-notch and his delivery of his many funny lines were perfect.

Jonathan Cable who plays bassist and deep-voiced bass singer Nick Massi in this production is silent for large portions of it, the quiet guy who is all for the band. His tall, lean presence onstage was terrific, and his solo and group vocals were spot on throughout the production. When he finally got to tell his side of things, he brought the house down. Cable was also the fight captain for this show.

Then there is Frankie Valli himself -- talked out of spelling Valli with a “y” by his first wife the sexy and combative Mary Delgado played by Ashley Bruce. As she says, “Y is a dumb letter – it doesn’t know if it’s a vowel or a consonant.” Frankie takes her advice to heart, and loses his heart to her for a time. What a performance by Jonny Wexler in this role! His head voice is superb, and he pins down every nuance of this complex man. From his first song “My Mother’s Eyes,” Wexler lets you know how fully he has embodied the soul of Valli. Every song gets stronger and stronger as he goes on, powerfully hitting those falsetto high notes and rocking the stage with his perfected moves. The show literally stopped for several minutes after his moving rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” as the audience acknowledged the gift we had just been given with this performance.

Bob Gaudio, the fourth member of the group is found by none other than Joe Pesci – yes, that Joe Pesci the actor when the group desperately needs a fourth singer. Rick Desloge makes the most of this yappy role as a hanger-on to the group. Eric Chambliss who plays keyboardist, backup singer and especially song writer Gaudio is stand-out in this show filled with top-notch performances. His clear, strong voice on a showcase number “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night) was a high point in an evening filled with them. Chambliss brings a depth to his role and we truly understand that for him, the music is everything. He is a joy to watch every moment he is onstage.

This show was pure delight from start to finish. You knew you were in professional hands from the second the show started until, sadly it had to come to an end. JERSEY BOYS is a musical that everyone will enjoy, with one caveat; there is quite a bit of swearing in this show. The first few f-bombs were met with a bit of consternation from our audience, but after a while when they just kept coming, we all sat back and enjoyed this fantastic show – these boys are from Jersey, after all. Try and see this show if you can!

Feb 13-16 7:30 PM
Feb 16th and 17th at 1.30pm
Feb 17th at 6:30pm
Ticket Office: 817.212.4280
Bass Performance Hall – 525 Commerce Street, Fort Worth TX 76102