Before going to see JERSEY BOYS at Segerstrom Center For The Arts, I knew very little about The Four Seasons. Of course I was familiar with some of their more well-known hits: “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and “Walk Like A Man,” but beyond that I was unfamiliar with Frankie Valli and the rest of the group. Needless to say, I have never been more impressed with a theatrical production in my entire life. And this is coming from someone that majored in Theatre.
JERSEY BOYS tells the story of four men: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi, and how their efforts to get beyond troubled lives in New Jersey led to the formation of The Four Seasons, one of the most successful groups in American music history. JERSEY BOYS is presented from all four character’s perspectives, each of which narrates different moments of the show. A large majority of it is explained by Tommy DeVito, who was the founding member of the band. Covering 40 years, the show follows the group’s humble beginnings on the streets of Jersey, to their success from #1 hit to #1 hit, up until their eventual separation in which Frankie Valli headlined his own version of the group, still with Bob Gaudio writing the songs.
What sets JERSEY BOYS apart from other musicals is the way in which it is presented. Rather than the typical musical, in which the plot or dialogue is being sung by the characters, this is more like a documentary and concert in one. Never once does a character break out into song to describe their emotions or provide comedic relief. All of the songs are presented as a performance, whether it be in a club, on television, or in the recording studio. I found this approach to be a welcomed change to what most audiences may typically be used to. The pacing of the show is very fast, with not a single dull moment that feels unnecessary. As their careers progressed, I found myself constantly surprised. “This song is by The Four Seasons?,” I kept thinking. Given how recognizable most of the musical numbers are, the entire audience was into it. People were clapping along, mouthing the lyrics, and bobbing their heads. It was very entertaining.
From a technical standpoint, JERSEY BOYS also excels. The staging, costumes, lighting, and of course the audio were all top-notch. The set makes use of a standing structure, with two staircases and a walkway above. Furniture and other scenic elements are rolled in from the wings, while larger items like walls and signs are flown down from the rails above. This allowed many different locations to be created within one space, without massive structures coming and going. All of the scenes were set by the actors participating in them, which helped keep the play moving. The main actors also manage to change their costumes onstage while talking several times, which made it seem as though you were backstage at a show while it was happening. Considering how much had taken place before intermission, I had begun to wonder if they would even stop for a break.
JERSEY BOYS features a stellar cast: Nicolas Dromard (as Tommy DeVito), Hayden Milanes (as Frankie Valli), Quinn VanAntwerp (as Bob Gaudio), and Adam Zelasko (as Nick Massi). The show also features Barry Anderson, Thomas Fiscella, and a large ensemble. The main stars that make up The Four Seasons are all immensely talented in their singing and acting skills. They deliver several songs in a row at some points in the show, only stopping for moments to continue the story and then back into another song. They never seemed out of breath or tired.
I cannot recommend JERSEY BOYS enough. I went in not knowing what to expect, and left very pleased. Even someone that may not be a fan of The Four Seasons would be able to enjoy themselves. Everything in the show is phenomenal, and you will find yourself humming tunes all the way home. JERSEY BOYS is playing at Segerstrom Center For The Arts now through July 13th. Do not miss it!