Telling the story of one of the most successful rock ‘n’ roll groups in the 1960s, Jersey Boys recounts the rise to fame, struggles and success of the Four Seasons. The original Four Seasons included Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi. The musical opened on Broadway in 2005, and won four Tony Awards in 2006, including Best Musical.
I’ve been anticipating the arrival of their national tour in Austin for months and was already planning to go to the show when I won last-minute tickets for opening night through a Texas Performing Arts twitter contest. (Thanks, Texas Performing Arts!) Excited might be an understatement. On to the review!
Knowing nothing about the Four Seasons, I liked how each character narrated his side of the story at different points of the musical. Each character had his own unique personality and values, and it was fun getting to know them. The musical showed the characters’ spoken and unspoken values and priorities of brotherhood and friendship that made it touching. The story also reminded me that becoming famous and successful isn’t all about the glitz and money, and sometimes, it’s more than you wanted it to become, in a bad way. I liked that they didn’t sugarcoat the story, although they may have made it a little more dramatic. I also liked that each character gave epilogues of what each member of the real Four Seasons is currently doing in real life.
Oh, the songs. Going to the musical not knowing any of the songs by the Four Seasons, I was delightfully surprised when I actually recognized many! My parents listened to the “oldies” as I was growing up, but I never knew the artists behind the songs. “Bye, Bye, Baby,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Who Loves You” and “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” were my favorites. The four voices blended so well together, as the real Four Seasons did, and it sometimes felt like audience members were holding their breath until they sang the last note of the song before erupting into applause. Lastly, I loved that Frankie finally got his horn section!
Since the members of the Four Seasons are/were Italian, the dialogue definitely showcased strong attitudes. I even saw a sign outside the theatre that gave a warning about flashing strobe lights and “authentic, profane, Jersey vocabulary” used in the production. The dialogue was humorous, and I liked the accents a lot!
The set was simple, but they do a great job of switching up the angles and props. At one point, the cast was performing with their backs to us as if the real audience (us) was sitting backstage. Most of the scenes were different nightclubs, and the lighting and the images (names of the current season and old graphics from the 60’s) projected on three big screens also added to the show.
What snazzy dance moves! I loved the in-sync choreography as they sang, especially when it was combined with real footage of the Four Seasons doing the same moves on the big screen above them. The dancing really completed the package of an entertaining performance.
I’ve seen a handful of Broadway Across America musicals in Austin, and Jersey Boys is definitely one of my favorites. The show is in Austin at Bass Concert Hall from August 18 to September 5, and they also have shows in Broadway, Vegas, London, Sydney and Toronto, in addition to touring. I highly recommend you seeing it at your closest location soon!