JERSEY BOYSNational Tour
The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Music by Bob Gaudio, Lyrics by Bob Crewe
Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
AT&T Performing Arts Center
Director – Des McAnuff
Music Supervision, Vocal/Dance Arrangements and Incidental Music by Ron Melrose
Choreography – Sergio Trujillo
Scenic Designer—Klara Zieglerova
Lighting Designer—Howell Binkley
Sound Designer – Steve Canyon Kennedy
Costume Designer – Jess Goldstein
Wig and Hair Design-Charles LaPointe
Projection Design—Michael Clark
Bob Crewe– Barry Anderson
Officer Petrillo, Hank Majewski, Crewe’s PA, Accountant, Joe Long (and others)—Tommaso Antico
Tommy DeVito—Matthew Dailey
Frankie Valli—Aaron De Jesus
Church Lady, Angel, Lorraine, Miss Frankie Nolan, Bob’s Party Girl (and others)—Jaycie Dotin
Gyp DeCarlo (and others)—Thomas Fiscella
Detective Two, Donnie, Billy Dixon (and others)—Devon Goffman
French Rap Star, Detective One, Hal Miller, Barry Belson, Police Officer, Davis (and others)—De’lon Grant
Nick Massi—Keith Hines
Frankie’s Mother, Nick’s Date, Angel, Francine, (and others)—Leslie Rochette
Bob Gaudio—Drew Seeley
Nick DeVito, Stosh, Norman Waxman, Charlie Calello (and others)—Dru Serkes
Mary Delgado, Angel (and others)—Lauren Tartaglia
Joey, Recording Studio Engineer, (and others)—Jonny Wexler
Photo: Jeremy Daniel
Reviewed Performance: 12/17/2015
Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Jersey Boys begins with a new version of “Ces Soirees-La” (a French rap version of “December, 1963 (Oh What A Night))”-a #1 song in Paris in the year 2000. It is soon explained that this is the not the beginning of the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ story. “Ces Soirees-La” is only one stop on the journey of success and the Four Seasons’.
Allow me to give you a little of the backstory of Jersey Boys, as told through the eyes of Tommy DeVito-lead guitarist and co-founder of the Four Seasons’. Jersey Boys begins during the late 50’s-as the career of the Four Seasons’ (also known as the Four Lovers’, the Variety-Trio, the Varietones-- and a handful of other early names-- it becomes a running joke in the story. Throughout the two and a half hours, the audience is taken on the journey of the ups and downs of the career of the Four Seasons’, the camaraderie and the bad blood between the friends, and the personal successes and tragedies of Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi, Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio. Although two and a half hours seems long for a musical production, the time will go quickly. The energy and enthusiasm of the cast in collaboration with the amazing visual elements make this production exactly what an experience at the theatre should be-spectacle, magic and an absence from reality. From the moment Tommy DeVito takes the stage and gives the audience some insight on the relevancy of the Four Seasons’ music-even in the year 2000. Jersey Boys is presented in documentary style format that dramatizes the formation, success and eventual break-up of the rock 'n roll group The Four Seasons. The musical is structured as four "seasons", each narrated by a different member of the band who gives his own perspective on its history and music.
Director Des McAnuff brought together an ensemble cast which worked well together, and collaborated with a crew who clearly took their jobs seriously and knit together scenery, lighting and costumes that enhanced the story being told by these characters from rock and roll history. His overall vision and concept was very impressive. The production was presented in such a professional manner-it really had that “Broadway” feel. The actors and the musicians were so fully charged with energy it really was an electrifying experience at the theater. From the moment the show began, members of the audience were bopping along with the music-and some even singing along (that would be me…). Whether you remember the music of the Four Season’s the first time around, or you this is your first Jersey Boys experience, you are guaranteed to be invited to be a part of a huge party as it unfolds live on stage. McAnuff certainly delivers a stunning, and dazzling spectacle, to the backdrop of beautiful, tight harmonies and impressive choreography.
Set Designer Klara Zieglerova successfully transformed the grand proscenium stage into multiple locations. In a story with so many locations, each one was designed executed in a quick, yet, detailed manner. I was impressed with Zieglerova’s attention to detail in each location and especially the usage of simple set pieces to create the full location where the action was happening. It’s the little details like that really pull me into the world of the story. It is apparent to me that a lot of time, care, and attention to detail were incorporated from both, the scenic and lighting designers.
There were quite a bit of scenic changes to accommodate the multiple locations required within the story. I thought that these transitions were executed quite marvelously. The transitions were seamless. As one scene was ending, the next one was beginning-with no pause or break in the story. This really kept the momentum of the story moving. Seeing microphones glide on and off stage with ease was almost as intense as the dramatic events within the story. One “gem” that I especially enjoyed was seeing the vintage style microphones decrease in number as the group was going through some changes and rough times together. It was a very symbolic motif that was integrated throughout the story. I was very impressed with the amount of set pieces that were flown in. From the symbolic street lamp (where the boys got their start) to the impressive and multiple neon signs that established important location after location on their journey from obscurity to stardom. This was another way that Zieglerova was able to keep the pace of the scenic and location changes.
The projections (designed by Michael Clark) that were integrated as the backdrop of the story were excellently designed and executed. Done in the style of pop-artist Roy Lichtenstein, each panel was a wonderful visual representation of the play’s action and the story behind the songs. It was impressive to see the theme of each scene and musical number visually depicted on a larger than life screen, and depicted with great dramatic effect. It was also amusing to me, as it reminded me of early panel comic book illustrations. This attention to detail was one of those things that would not have been missed had it not been there but added an element of legitimacy to the set. This was also evident with the use of the story-telling device of the “four seasons” signs, when it was time for each of the characters to take their turn narrating the tale.
Another thrilling moment in this production was seeing The Four Seasons’ perform on such esteemed musical variety programs, like American Bandstand, and The Ed Sullivan Show. When they rolled out the classic cameras, suddenly their performance was integrated with vintage footage from these two iconic musical performance programs. It really brought the allusion and the spectacle to another level. I had goose bumps during these powerful and vivid video montages. It was accomplished with great attention to detail, with seamless separation between the archival video footage and the film of the actor’s in performance.
Lighting was designed by Howell Binkley. Binkley did a fantastic job plotting lighting that was appropriate for each scene and mood. One element that was absolutely awe-inspiring was seeing silhouettes of the musicians, specifically the members of the Four Seasons’ with the backsplash of vibrant colored lights. It truly was visually pleasing. It really amazes me how something as simple as a color can delineate and represent the entire mood and emotion of a scene. I felt that it was a very powerful use of visual imagery. Through the performance, Binkley’s cuing to enhance each scene was spot on. I especially enjoyed how the lighting complimented the scenic design, giving the impression of the many different locations-such as the many night spots and supper clubs where the boys played waiting to be discovered. The best “gem” from the lighting design, for me, was seeing the depiction of these many different locations portrayed with individuality and a distinctive look. The best moment for me-which was very exciting and intense, was seeing The Four Seasons’ performing in a large concert venue. Our audience was able to experience their performance from the backstage point-of-view (their backs were to the audience), and our audience was flooded with the flashes of many cameras, and their concerts’ special effects lighting. It was quite a different perspective to be a part of their backstage universe, experiencing their live and rousing performance. Binkley worked in cooperation with scenic designer, Zieglerova, and was able to create a very unique and dynamic view of the multiple locations. From the dimly lit night clubs to the large concert venues- Binkley really devoted a lot of time, effort and talent in the lighting of this production.
Jess Goldstein designed costumes that were not only appropriate to the late 50’s and early 60’s, but had a fine attention to detail. For each performance of the Four Seasons’ they each had a unique and eye-catching costume. It was a nice touch to see some sparkle and dazzle to some of the costumes. There was a huge cast of characters, played by a small ensemble of actors. For each character, everyone in the ensemble had extremely different costumes, and there was never a point in this production when I felt that costumes were similar to one another. Costume design was surely a huge undertaking in this production, with the massive number of characters in the story. Each ensemble player wore a unique costume (for each role) adding to their importance to the story. All this added authenticity to their roles. Costumes were visually appealing, while also giving an accurate depiction of their character’s personality and role in the story of the Four Seasons’.
Aaron De Jesus was incredibly believable in the role of New Jersey native, Frankie Valli. Through facial expression, body language, and an incredible falsetto range, De Jesus convincingly portrayed the aspiring singer, growing up in the projects of Belleville, New Jersey. De Jesus’ presence on stage was nearly constant-his enthusiasm and honesty on stage was a very true depiction of Mr. Frankie Valli. De Jesus never faltered in his delivery, and all interactions with other cast members were believable and spot on. Mr. De Jesus was wonderful in the role of Frankie, and I believe, could certainly be held in the same category as others who have graced the stage in the role of Valli. De Jesus really brought down the house with Valli’s signature tune, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” He was supported with a strong and talented horn and reed section-something that Valli always aspired to have in his live repertoire.
Bass vocalist Nick Massi was played skillfully by Keith Hines. Hines was very convincing through facial expressions, dialogue delivery, and dialect. During the “Fall” season, Hines took control of the stage, and delivered absolute authenticity with the appropriate amount of humor, and narration. He had some nice moments interacting with the audience and other members of the ensemble. Massi and Tommy DeVito (played marvelously by Matthew Dailey) had a lovely relationship on stage, as bandmates and friends during the memorable and the tense moments. This was evident in their rapport with each other during each scene. Even in later scenes, when things were very strained among the friends, Hines and Dailey displayed some gripping moments with each other. The boys were very real, and were everything that I would expect from New Jersey natives-in dialect, interaction, and relationships with others in the story.
Another standout was Drew Seeley in the role of tenor vocalist, keyboardist and primary songwriter, Bob Gaudio. Seeley was very accomplished in portraying the naïve and talented, Gaudio. His time as the narrator in the “Summer” season was, by far, my favorite time of the story. All of the good things that happened (or so it seemed) happened during his time as the story-teller. One of my favorite non-“Four Seasons’” songs was “Cry for Me.” Seeley charmingly crooned during this number-reminding me of early singers and standards performers of the late 1950’s. His voice was very tender and most impressive. His presence on stage was always strong, and he never faltered in his powerful vocal delivery.
This production of Jersey Boys is definitely worth seeing. The attention to detail evident in all aspects of this production makes for a satisfying experience. From the moment the music begins, and the songs to the soundtrack of lives appear one after another, you will be fascinated and compelled to sing-along. Not only is it an excellent musical history lesson for audiences, but also, it is an excellent way to introduce Valli’s story to first time theatergoers. Whether you are a fan of the Four Seasons’ musical catalogue, or you are fan of the recent film, Jersey Boys will leave you with a spectacular theatrical experience. I do caution you, however, Jersey Boys has some very harsh language-and may not be appropriate for younger audience members…after all, they are from Jersey. Time is limited to see Jersey Boys at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. “Oh, What a Night” it will be-yes, in late December…but not in ’63.
2015-2016 Broadway Series
AT&T PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
WINSPEAR OPERA HOUSE
2403 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201
Plays through December 27.
Sat. Dec.19 at 2:00 and 8:00 pm
Sun. Dec. 20 at 2:30 and 7:30 pm
Mon.-Wed. Dec.21-23 at 8:00 pm
(Dec. 23 ASL Performance)
Fri. Dec. 25 at 8:00 pm
Sat. Dec. 26 at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm
Sun. Dec. 27 at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm
Ticket prices range from $30.00-$125.00 depending on day and seating.
For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.attpac.org, call the box office at 214-880-0202, or go to the AT&T Performing Arts Center Information Center at 2353Flora Street (Mon. 10am-6pm, Tues-Sat. 10am-9pm, and Sun.10 am-6:00 pm).
**Please Note-Buyers are reminded that the AT&T’s Performing Arts Center Information Center Box Office is the only official retail outlet for all performances at the Winspear Opera House. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party should be aware that the Winspear Opera House is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance.