It’s 2am and I’m hopped up on adrenaline and M & M’s. The Jersey Boys original Broadway recording is blasting from my tv. (Shout out to John Lloyd Young!!! I heart you!!!) I just had to write this review while everything was still very fresh in my memory. Plus, I’m excited to share with you my night, so let’s dive in!
Full disclosure: I saw this show back in 2008 when it first came to the city. I was mesmerized. Not gonna lie, I was like I-cannot-blink-this-is-the-best-show-ever-there-is-a-heaven sort of mesmerized. The minute that 2008 show ended (or maybe the next morning) you better believe I bought EVERY Four Seasons cd that I could find and downloaded dozens more from iTunes. I bought this huge box set that cost like, $80 from the now non-existent Borders. Suffice to say, I was hooked. So it was with no small amount of enthusiasm that I went into tonight’s show. HOWEVER….and here’s the big however, I was determined to watch the show with my reviewer eyes on. The eyes that can go over a 100,000 word manuscript and make so many corrections to it there would be more red ink on the page then black. Trust me, my reviewer eyes are blunt. Some might say brutal. I say honest and with love. 🙂 Tomato Tomahto.
Anyway, there I am, in a very good seat (thanks Veronica and Diana!) and the lights dim and the music starts. The reviewer eyes are firmly in place. And, with all my blunt and brutal honestly, I can very sincerely say…
THE SHOW WAS AMAZING!!!!!! (Insert best Oprah “we’re going to Australllliaaaa!” voice here.) I mean really amazing. Sure, it wasn’t without its flaws, which I’ll mention in a moment, but all in all, the show did exactly what it was meant to do: tell the story of the Four Seasons, showcase tons of great songs, showcase tons of great talent, and make people laugh. It was exactly what was needed after two solid weeks of RNC and DNC talk and unrelenting angry ads.
Under the direction of Des McAnuff and following the book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, the show moved at a brisk pace and the four main characters, Frankie, Tommy, Bob and Nick, were all finely drawn and had wonderful character arcs. Jason Kappus’ Bob Gaudio was an exceptional standout among awesome performances. His voice was buttah. I heard every word and inflection, understood every double meaning and loaded silence. His singing was as clear as a ringing bell in the large auditorium of the Benedum. He pretty much killed Oh What A Night. It was astonishing.
Brandon Andrus as Nick Massi and Colby Foytik as Tommy DeVito elicited great laughs and had some of the best one liners and facial expressions of the night. They had me cracking up. Brandon played Nick a bit more low key than 2008’s Steve Gouveia but still with tons of heart and humor. And of course, both Brandon and Colby sang the crap out of the song book.
As for Brad Weinstock’s Frankie Valli….well, I guess my only critique of the performance is that at times, Brad spoke a bit fast for me. Some of his lines didn’t really translate. On the positive side, his singing was wonderful. It wasn’t like 08’s Joseph Leo Bwarie’s nearly angelic tone or like original Broadway Frankie Valli John Lloyd Young’s laser-like falsetto, but it was intensely lovely to listen to. His vocals wrapped tightly around songs like Big Girls Don’t Cry, Dawn (Go Away) and Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You to produce something beautiful and charismatic. What a treat!
All in all, Jersey Boys lives up to the hype. The song choices were impeccable, including the classics not originally recorded by the Boys such as Silhouettes, Earth Angel and Sunday Kind of Love. The characters, as I said before, were finely drawn and it’s impossible not to genuinely care about them by the end of the show. (And all the actors are really cute too! Just sayin’.) The set design by Klara Zieglerova was minimal and spare but really worked well with the story and space of the stage. But the thing that struck me most…well, I think one of the last lines in the play can explain it better than I can:
“People ask me what was the best….[it was] four guys under the street light, when it was all still ahead of us. The first time we made that sound – our sound. When everything dropped away and all there was was the music. That was the best.”
Who loves you pretty baby? I do!