Jersey Boys is a theatrical experience that will leave the songs of the Four Seasons in your head long after and create a memory to never be forgotten.
Much like the weather is always changing, with a mix of glorious highs and disastrous lows, so was the career of The Four Seasons. The quartet experienced the rise of their success (Summer) and their gloomy demise (Fall), only to be reborn again (Spring), but through it all was a constant chill in the air (Winter). The only name that would be more fitting for the group is Ohio, which is known to experience all four seasons in a week, day, or sometimes an hour. From boys who sung under a streetlight to members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jersey Boys, tells the true harrowing story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The Tony award winning smash-hit musical is at the Schuster Center through October 23.
The show is part rock concert and part theatrical drama, which combined, provides a richly entertaining performance that leaves you saying (or singing) ‘Oh What a Night.’ The vocals and acting ability from the entire cast are top notch. There is Matthew Dailey, who is somewhat the unheralded star of the show, as Tommy DeVito. DeVito is at the center of much of the activity, including the groups downfall, but is also responsible for bringing the Four Seasons together. Dailey plays DeVito with just enough sleaze to still keep him respectable, my hand to God that’s true. The true centerpiece though is Frankie Valli (with an I because all things Italian have to end with a vowel…pizza, spaghetti, lasagna) played by Aaron De Jesus (not a real Italian!) De Jesus is excellente, perfectly capturing the uniqueness of Valli’s voice, which is as smooth as a freshly rolled cannoli. (Is anyone else getting hungry?) In addition to his tremendous vocals, De Jesus also delivers some strong dramatic scenes, especially in dealing with a tragedy that occurs in Valli’s family. Women, and maybe even some men should bring some tissues. If you are male and excited about the return of ‘Gilmore Girls’ then come prepared.
The creative genius behind the lyrics sung by the Four Seasons was Bob Gaudio (Cory Jeacoma). Bob was the most level headed of the group and was very close to Frankie. Jeacoma is very solid in his performance. Gaudio may be the type who didn’t like being in the spotlight, but Jeacoma demands it with his stage presence. An interesting tidbit about Gaudio, he was actually discovered by an eventual Oscar winner, whose identity I won’t giveaway but he’s a good fella. The remaining member of the group is Nick Massi, played by Keith Hines, a pretty mild-mannered fellow, except for when it comes to hotel room towels. A real shining moment for Hines is his rant about sharing a room with DeVito, in which is humorous fury is unleashed. Massi was soft spoken, but Hines creates a lot of noise with his talented portrayal.
The first act is largely focused on the group’s formation and rise to stardom, it’s also the most music-heavy featuring a collection of hits. Songs like ‘Sherry’, ‘Walk like a Man’, and ‘Dawn,’ generated the loudest and most enthusiastic response from the audience that I’ve ever heard at the Schuster Center. On the flip side, act two has a much darker tone as relationships crumble due to a rising financial debt placed upon the group. The higher you rise, the bigger the fall, and the audience is carried along on the heart-wrenching plunge. No fear, there is still an assortment of bright spots, and in my opinion, the second act is what makes Jersey Boys worth seeing.
From the ensemble, special mention must be made to Barry Anderson as the flamboyant producer, Bob Crews. Anderson brings lots of energy and humor to the role, whether he’s explaining metaphors or using his famous ears. Another standout is David Lamarr who plays more parts than Tyler Perry does in a Madea movie. Lamarr manages to bring a little extra something to each role.
Jersey Boys is a theatrical experience that will leave the songs of the Four Seasons in your head long after and create a memory to never be forgotten. Jersey Boys continues at the Schuster Center through October 23.
Mike Woody is a life long resident of Dayton, and has a passion for writing, which is good because he doesn't excel at much of anything else, except eating.