I’ve just seen Jersey Boys for the fifth time, at the State Theatre at Playhouse Square. So in honor of that milestone, here are five reasons why I love this damn show about the singing group The Four Seasons.
1. It’s a jukebox musical adorned with cartoon graphics about four singers from New Jersey. And it begins with one of their hits, “Oh, What a Night!” being sung in rap style—in French—to show how far their influence traveled. Not bad for kids who were stealing hubcaps and knocking over cigar stores a few years before.
2. The music of The Four Season never gets old because, let’s face it, if it isn’t old by now it never will be. Lead singer Frankie Valli is about 137 years old, and he’s still performing live all across the world.
3. The show does a great job of ticking off all the stages of the group’s growth, leading up to their breakthrough hit “Sherry.” It was a long and tangled journey with some weird stops such as singing with a guy dressed up in a monkey suit. Sure, it’s a familiar yarn, but it reminds you that there aren’t many overnight successes in showbiz.
4. This touring production does the show justice, in most respects. Keith Hines channels the downbeat Nick Massi quite well, squeezing some laughs out of lines that aren’t that funny. As the pop musical genius Bob Gaudio, Cory Jeacoma is effective although he doesn’t give this interesting character as much dimension as actors in other productions have done. Matthew Dailey is excellent as tough guy, gambling addict and wanna-be group leader Tommy DeVito. And Aaron De Jesus, who looks like a slightly chunkier clone of Valli, handles the songs well. Sure, his falsetto sometimes slides a bit too high, getting into the ear-bleed zone. But his rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” is a showstopper.
5. Some of the smaller roles shine, such as Barry Anderson as the talented and just barely closeted producer Bob Crewe. His fey moments on stage are a delight. And David LaMarr kicks off the evening in style as the kick-ass French rapper.
So, it’s still a great show. Am I a bit depressed that I’ll have to wait a while to see Jersey Boys again? Sure, but then I remember: “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”
Through September 25 at the State Theatre, Playhouse Square, 216-241-6000.