Thursday, September 18, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Review: JERSEY BOYS

Review: JERSEY BOYS

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By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer 

To use one of their song lyrics, “What a night!” 

As a Jersey girl, I can tell you that Jersey Boys, the story of  Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, is high-energy musical full of great songs (“Earth Angel,” “Sherry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Working My Way Back to You”) and great voices.  The show, a Broadway hit that won four Tony Awards,  and a Grammy for Best Musical album, was last in Philly two years ago; I had a good time then and I had a good time again.

Valli (Nick Cosgrove has a killer falsetto) was a teenager in a mobbed-up Italian neighborhood who became the lead singer of a quartet who eventually named themselves the Four Seasons.

Tommy (Nicholas Dromard) is his brash, gambling mentor, and Bob Gaudio (Jason Kappus) the forward-looking practical one who wrote all their songs, having written his first hit, “Who Wears Short Shorts” when he was fifteen; Nick (Brandon Andrus), is their bass voice, nearly silent, ironical, and oddly compelling. Their lovable, savvy producer (Barry Anderson) completes the core of the cast, with many others—singers, actors, musicians—giving it a big sound.

When Gaudio was stuck for a next song, he heard Rhonda Fleming say in cheesy movie, “Big girls don’t cry” and there it was. This seems to have inspired the Roy Lichtensteinesque projections that provide backdrop and amusing commentary on the action onstage. 

Frankie’s  life had its ups and downs—huge success, debts of honor, wrecked friendships, family tragedy— it’s the old old story of money and sex. They spent years on the road:  “You sell a 100 million records, and see how you handle it.”

The show opens with “Ces Soirees-La,” the French version of “Oh What a Night” which was a huge hit in Paris in 2000. As Tommy says, “I don’t want to seem ubiquitous, but we’re the guys who put Jersey on the map.”

 

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Forrest Theatre, 1114 Walnut St., through Jan.5.  Tickets and information: 800-447-7400 or www.telecharge.com

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About this blog
Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer. She also is a contributing writer for Variety and American Theatre magazine. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of four books about four playwrights (Rabe, McNally, Miller, Albee), and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). Her 'weekend' job as a travel writer provides adventure: dogsledding in the Yukon, ziplining in Belize, walking coast-to-coast across England, and cowboying in the Australian Outback.


Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.


Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.


Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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