The boys from Jersey are back. Nah, it’s not the guys from the Bing. It’s Frankie Valli and his pals who made up the Four Seasons, in “Jersey Boys”, currently enthralling folks at the Fox. For my peers, it’s the soundtrack of our youth.
The show was here two years ago, but this version turned out to be worth a return visit. The music itself, from the four principals and the orchestra – which is what most of us would refer to as a band including a brass section that’s featured – is particularly well done. It’s the tale, abbreviated and adjusted with dramatic license, of how the group came and how they went. Valli, of course, went on to have a solo career using band member-composer Bob Gaudio’s songs.
These are middle-aged guys looking back (although some look younger than others), which is a nice casting choice. All eyes are on the Valli character, who’s Aaron de Jesus, feisty and with a fabulous voice, nailing the falsetto that made Valli’s reputation. Matthew Dailey’s Tommy de Vito, who founded the group, easily flashes back and forth between charming and not-so-much. Gaudio, played by Drew Seeley, is a much quieter guy than the first two, but clearly brilliant – he’d written a #1 hit before he was 16 – and Seeley carries his self-assurance like it’s in his genes. The bass in the group, a key player in the doo-wop-ish songs that they began with, Keith Hines as Nick Massi, charms from start to finish, occasionally bringing a touch of Jack Nicholson to the role. The harmony in their singing and the group interaction is mirror-smooth.
A warning: When you can’t understand the opening scene, it’s not the Fox sound system. It’s in French. Otherwise, things were under good control in that department. The set, simple steel piping with lots of room to roll furniture in and out, from Klara Zieglerova, works perfectly, and music director Taylor Peckham’s efforts pay off. There are two drummers, although only one is credited in the program, and two separate drum kits on movable bases. The drums float around as part of things. Serious lighting work from Howell Binkley is a major contribution to the feel of the evening. And then there’s the costume design from Jess Goldstein. Once upon a time, teen idols performed in suits and ties, kids. Extra points for the brocade jackets, a perfect example of what it really looked like in those days.
There are times when even serious theater-goers just want to be entertained. Here’s their chance.
through May 22
527 N. Grand Blvd