Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron
Jersey Boys brings to the stage the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Parts of the plot are predictable. Frankie Valli is discovered, a group evolves, and finally they find the name The Four Seasons. Male groups with four singers were popular in the 1960s. This group found success banking on new music and Frankie Valli's smooth tenor voice, which he could shift into a startling falsetto. The Four Seasons found success, women, and all of the things to bring pleasure to a young man. Unfortunately, the taxes hadn't been paid and one of the men gambled away thousands of dollars. Valli insisted the team to work together and he started performing to pay off the debts.
A subplot deals with Valli's failed marriage and his poor relationship with his daughter. The story asks a simple question: can a man who is constantly touring have a successful marriage and a positive relationship with his children? The finale of the story takes place with The Four Seasons reuniting at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and performance. They are together one last time.
Interestingly, now in 2016, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons (a new group of men) recently played on Broadway and are now touring the country singing the hits Valli introduced about 50 years ago. His career has been rejuvenated by Jersey Boys.
Jersey Boys is well staged, well acted, and superbly choreographed. Des McAnuff (director) has an excellent cast and a well-written script. Superb performers make The Four Seasons come to life on the stage and make us happy to share those golden years with them. One musician who stands out is Mark Papazian, who plays the drums. Sergio Trujillo (choreography) has staged the movements of The Four Seasons and The Angels, the girl group that toured for awhile with The Four Seasons.
The story of Valli and the men in The Four Seasons group is powerful. They have their ups and downs in their private and professional lives. They have financial wealth, professional success, and more than enough heartbreak.
The show finds power in 33 songs made famous by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. From "Silhouettes" through the biggest of the big hits "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," "Rag Doll," and "Oh, What a Night" the performances of The Four Seasons evoke memories and make the evening great fun for all.
The Cleveland audience applauded for most of the songs. Occasionally, a performer raised his hand to quiet the cheering, appreciative audience so the performers could go on with the show. The standing ovation started almost the second the curtain call started. The four leads stood on the stage looking out at the audience, who were giving long, loud cheers.
Jersey Boys runs through September 25, 2016, in the State Theatre at Playhouse Square. For ticket information, call 216-640-8800 or visit www.playhousesquare.org/broadway. For more information on the tour, visit www.jerseyboysinfo.com/tour.
Book: Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice