JERSEY BOYSThe Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Music by Bob Gaudio and Lyrics by Bob Crewe
Performing Arts Fort Worth
Bass Hall, Fort Worth
Direction by Des McAnuff
Music Direction, Vocal Arrangements and Incidental Music by Ron Melrose
Choreography by Sergio Trujillo
Scenic Design by Klara Zieglerova
Costume Design by Jess Goldstein
Lighting Design by Howell Binkley
Sound Design by Steve Canyon Kennedy
Projection Design by Michael Clark
Wig and Hair Design by Charles LaPointe
Fight Direction by Steve Rankin
Orchestration by Steve Orich
Music Coordination by John Miller
Nicolas Dromard as Tommy DeVito
Hayden Milanes as Frankie Valli
Quinn VanAntwerp as Bob Gaudio
Adam Zelasko as Nick Massi
Barry Anderson as Bob Crewe
Thomas Fiscella as Gyp DeCarlo (and others)
Tommaso Antico as Hank Majewski (and others)
Jaycie Dotin as Lorraine (and others)
Marlana Dunn as Mary (and others)
De'lon Grant as Barry Belson (and others)
Ian Joseph as Joey (and others)
Brian Reardon LaFontaine as Thug, Guitar
John Rochette as Norm Waxman (and others)
Leslie Rochette as Francine (and others)
Skye Scott as Knuckles
Mark Verdino as Thug, Bass
JERSEY BOYS ORCHESTRA
Conductor – Ben Hartman
Associate Conductor – Taylor Peckham
Keyboards – Ben Hartman, Julie Homi, Taylor Peckham
Guitar – Brian Reardon LaFontaine, Ty Simmons
Bass – Mark Verdino
Drums – Mark Papazian
Reeds – Ted Hogarth, Nick Moran
Trumpet – Jeff Ostroski
Photos by Jeremy Daniel
(recording studio): (l to r) Adam Zelasko, Hayden Milanes, Quinn VanAntwerp and Nicolas Dromard
(stage shot): (l to r) Quinn VanAntwerp, Nicolas Dromard, Hayden Milanes and Adam Zelasko
Reviewed Performance: 6/4/2014
Reviewed by Richard Blake, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Jersey Boys is the story of four New Jersey blue-collar kids, Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi, and how they became one of the greatest successes in pop music history. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sound, and sold 175 million records worldwide, all before they were thirty! The musical is presented documentary-style and dramatizes the formation; success and eventual breakup of the 1960s rock 'n roll group The Four Seasons. The musical is structured around the four seasons, each narrated by a different member of the band who gives his own perspective on the history and music. Songs include "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Sherry", "December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)", "My Eyes Adored You", "Stay", "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", "Working My Way Back to You" and "Rag Doll", among others.
The musical opened on Broadway in 2005 and has had two North American National Tours, and productions in London's West End, Las Vegas, Chicago, Toronto, Melbourne and other Australian cities, Singapore, South Africa, The Netherlands and elsewhere. Jersey Boys won four 2006 Tony Awards including Best Musical, the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album, and the 2009 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical.
The current National Tour, under the direction of Des McAnuff, is a no-holds-barred evening of wildly talented performers, spectacular staging and intense emotions. Every scene is meticulously blocked on every square inch of the two-level. fixed set, with direct focus to every moment of the story. From small nightclub “handshake deals” to re-creating the CBS television broadcasts, Mr. McAnuff presents a truly wonderful staging of the musical. The musical never lags, always engages you, and contains some of the most creative scene transitions I’ve ever seen. In fact, there never seems to be an actual scene change, and the story simply flows through each act with style and panache. The show ends way too soon, but when it does, you’re on your feet clapping, singing and dancing to the rousing finale and curtain call. There’s a lot of “insider” information revealed in some intimate stage moments about the boys and their rise to fame, and in those moments that Mr. McAnuff’s outstanding direction and poignant staging truly shines.
Music direction by Ron Melrose is mind-blowing. He has a spectacular cast at his fingertips, and in every moment of the show he takes that talent to extraordinary heights. This musical has over thirty three songs, including reprises, and each are world renowned and recognizable by anyone at almost any age. Mr. Melrose’s guidance in duplicating the style and sound of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons is perfectly done. Credit goes to the cast as well, but under his guidance, if you close your eyes, you could believe the Four Seasons are performing live again. The entire evening is a myriad of musical enjoyment that you just don’t want to end. Congratulations and bravo on a superior job Mr. Melrose!
Sergio Trujillo’s choreography is another stunning success in this production. As with the music, the Four Seasons had a truly unique, defining style when they performed. Mr. Trujillo duplicates that style in every arm movement, foot tap, shoulder glance and dance step. The show features archival footage merged with live performance and the choreography transitions are seamless. It is obvious a lot of research and footage viewing was done to recreate the exciting movements, and that level of attention produces pure perfection in the show. Again, another glowing example of the professionalism and talent this tour offers.
Scenic design by Klara Zieglerova is a visual masterpiece. The fixed, main set built of metal crosswalks, spiral staircases and chain link fencing gives the feel of the “grittiness” of New Jersey at the time, while at the same time gives the idea that the boys’ whole world is a stage-like environment. Open portals with moving set pieces, like nightclub tables, couches, and even four toilets (you’ll just have to see the scene to understand THAT one), only add to the excitement of each scene Ms. Zieglerova designed for this tour. The use of multiple, flown-in pieces, primarily nightclub signage, streetlamps and a superb LED “billboard” round out an amazing fluid environment onstage.
Howell Binkley’s lighting designs, paired with Michael Clark’s projections, are, well, just WOW!! The two designers worked hand-in hand to create breathtaking visuals that add such unique depth and dimension to scenes you can’t help but be impressed. It took me a while to realize the far upstage “wall” isn’t a cyclorama or backdrop, it’s a massive, high-definition LED screen. There are moments the projections are so three dimensional the stage seems to go back infinitely, then would transition into what looked like lighting from the side, matching the actual stage lighting. The LED screen is also used as backlighting for scenes and creates stunning effects when the boys are performing “live” in the story. It is a truly remarkable marriage of two theatrical mediums I’ve never seen before and simply has to be seen to be believed.
The cast assembled for this production has so much talent it’s just unbelievable. The ensemble supporting the main cast of four plays a myriad of characters from supporting to background, but throughout, every one of them is a star when they grace the stage!
Revolving around the “members” of the Four Seasons, the four highly-talented men do such justice to the roles you believe you’re seeing the actual group performing. Their physical looks, vocals and acting chops are impressive every moment they command the stage.
Nicolas Dromard, as Tommy DeVito, the man you love to hate, takes you on a stunning roller coaster ride of emotions. He is powerful, vocally rich and stylizes the role with perfection and grace, showing he is very comfortable in the role, adding a wonderful flair to it. His character causes great problems within the group as the story unfolds, and Mr. Dromard takes you on a great artistic ride as he tells DeVito’s side of how history unfolded. The only thing topping his acting skills are his melodic and perfectly delivered vocals.
Hayden Milanes, as Frankie Valli, carries the most difficult role in the show. His soaring falsetto voice is a perfect match to the real Frankie Valli, captivating you every moment he sings. Ironically, the story is not about him per se, but rather the events, people and his reactions to everything happening around him. Mr. Milanes embodies the heart and soul of a singer people only knew from a public perspective, and in those moments he IS Frankie Valli. The moments “behind the scenes” allow this remarkable actor to really shine. His emotions are raw, deep and you are pulled into a genuine character onstage. You forget you’re watching an actor and are drawn deep into a “person”. This daunting role is exquisitely handled by a true professional in every sense of the word.
Quinn VanAntwerp, playing Bob Gaudio, is a sensation! He comes in as a character that causes the greatest moment and turning point in the Four Seasons’ career. Mr. VanAntwerp’s stage presence is captivating, his vocals spectacular, and you follow him every moment on stage. He plays the iconic role of the actual man who wrote most of the music for the group AND for this musical. If there is any extra pressure on him, knowing he’s playing the man working ON this show, and telling his story, it didn’t show, proving he is the epitome of true star talent.
Adam Zelasko, as Nick Massi, has a wonderful role in the show. Quiet yet powerful, strong yet reserved, and vocally a true master of his craft, Mr. Zelasko is pure magic to watch. He delivers some great comedic one-liners, and while seeming to simply “hang around” most of the time, when he takes control of the show to tell his side of the story, you are engaged in stunned awe. His singing voice has a lovely, soothing tone that emotionally cradles you. Mr. Zelasko takes you on a spectacular artistic journey and you follow him with complete disregard to the outcome, enjoying every moment of it!
As I mentioned, the hugely-talented ensemble cast in this show are spectacular. Kudos to the entire company on a truly spectacular job well done!
The musical’s orchestra plays both the music of the Four Seasons and supports some of the live playing by the actors with perfection, style and great excitement. One thing that really impressed me was incorporating the band onstage through most of Act II. They play live, become important characters in their own right, and add an awe-inspiring, musical element to the production. This talented group of musicians really shines on AND off stage. Their perfect contribution to the musical’s overall performance is a remarkable thing to witness.
Jersey Boys is in limited run at Bass Hall, so get your tickets now to witness musical magic created right before your eyes. You will be singing along, clapping, tapping your feet, and smiling all night long with this huge hit premiering right here in North Texas. This, folks, is a show you do NOT want to miss while it’s here!
Performing Arts Fort Worth
Bass Performance Hall
4th and Calhoun Streets
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
* LIMITED engagement through June 15th
** CONTENT WARNING: Jersey Boys is not recommended for all ages. The show contains smoke, gun shots, strobe lights, drug references, sexual situations and profane, "authentic Jersey language." Parental guidance is suggested.
Click http://jerseyboysinfo.com/language to watch a fun video about the language used in Jersey Boys.
Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday at 7:00 pm, Saturday-Sunday at 1:30 pm, and one additional performance on Friday, June 13th at 1:30.
Tickets range from $38.50 - $132.00, based on seating. First week is less expensive than the second.
For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit: www.basshall.com or call Ticket Sales at 817-212-4280, toll-free at 877-212-4280.
For more information on the Official Tour, you can visit www.jerseyboysinfo.com/tour or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JerseyBoysBroadway.