Review: JERSEY BOYS

 

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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