Arts & Entertainment

‘Jersey Boys’ demonstrates why it has longevity

March 1, 2017

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For those in the bloom of their youth during the often tumultuous 60s in which it is set — “Jersey Boys,” sparks pure nostalgia. The Tony Award-winning jukebox musical, which tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, opened February 28 and continues through Sunday, March 5 at Clowes Memorial Hall. It’s a return engagement for this wildly popular show, presented by Broadway in Indianapolis, that has played the city multiple times.

Directed by Des McAnuff, “Jersey Boys” is written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe and choreography by Sergio Trujillo.

This national tour production stars Aaron De Jesus as Frankie Valli, Matthew Daily as Tommy DeVito, Cory Jeacoma as Bob Gaudio and Keith Hines as Nick Massi.

"Jersey Boys"

L- R  Cory Jeacoma, Matthew Dailey, Aaron De Jesus & Keith Hines. Courtesy  of Jeremy Daniel. Used by permission.

The supporting cast — most of whom performed multiple roles — was also superb. Prominent among them was Kristin Paulicelli as Valli’s wife Mary Delgado, and Barry Anderson as Bob Crewe, the band’s first producer.

“Jersey Boys,” which premiered on Broadway in 2005, tells the story of four working-class boys who escaped their rough neighborhood by writing their own songs, creating their own singular sound and selling millions of records worldwide. Ultimately, they transformed themselves into one of the most iconic groups in rock history.

The musical, segmented into four “seasons,” with each narrated by a different member of the group, and each with a different perspective — chronicles the formation, rise and the break-up of the original Four Seasons members.

At Tuesday’s opening night performance “Jersey Boys” played to an audience that consisting of primarily of baby Boomers.  Energetic performances and the show’s lighting speed pace kept the audience thoroughly engaged. Enthusiasm ran high as many danced in place, clapping and singing along to the music and lyrics from the Four Seasons’ songbook. For many present, the group’s music represents the soundtrack of their high school and college years. Those present who weren’t even born when the group was at its height also seemed to be caught up in music that is still appealing for its catchy and simple charm.

Due to the dynamic performances of the four actors/singers/dancers who do fine impressions of members of the original group, “Jersey Boys,” and its production elements is much more than the usual musical, because it creates the illusion that one is actually  present at Four Seasons’ performances that take place throughout the show.

Outstanding in their characterizations, and affecting authentic-sounding Jersey accents, the four leads, excelled at recreating the vocal blend and sound that was unique to the Four Seasons.

De Jesus was particularly impressive singing in a falsetto voice that sounded, uncannily similar to that of Valli’s. In fact, at times, it seemed to surpass, at least in range, that of the icon he played. As far as his acting, he was thorough convincing as 16-year old Valli and later as his character ages.

Also turning in an appealing performance as, the youngest member and chief songwriter of the Four Seasons, was Cory Jeacoma as composer and lyricist Bob Gaudio.

Though it brought laughter to the audience every time Hine’s character Nick spoke in a slow, deliberate manner, his shtick, for me, wore a little thin as the show progressed.

Dailey, though believable, was not as strong in his characterization of incorrigible Four Seasons founder Tom De Vito, as other actors I have seen previously in the role

The supporting cast — most of whom performed multiple roles — was also superb. Prominent among them was Kristin Paulicelli as Valli’s wife Mary Delgado, and Barry Anderson as Bob Crewe, the band’s first producer.

The evolution of the group was chronicled in the show that was a repository of the Four Seasons’ greatest hits, including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like A Man,” “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” and “Dawn (Go Away).”

Tunes recorded when the group later became known as Franki Valli and the Four Seasons were also performed. They included “Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby Goodbye),” “C’mon Marianne,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Working My Way Back to You” and “Rag Doll.”

Effective production elements included a set which featured a series of modules, raised walkways, a spiral staircase, a silhouette of an industrial skyline projected on a scrim, and chain-link fencing incorporated into a design that symbolized the group’s urban roots.  Contributing to the show’s gritty urban feel was the show’s lighting design. The production’s costumes, which enhanced the show’s nostalgia factor, and comic book images, illustrating the group’s saga, that were projected on screens placed high above the stage, also added to its appeal.

The performance schedule for “Jersey Boys” is Tuesday through Thursday evenings at 7:30 pm, Friday & Saturday evenings at 8 pm, Saturday matinee at 2 pm, Sunday matinee at 1 pm, and Sunday evening at 6:30 pm.  Tickets are available in person at Clowes Memorial Hall, the Old National Centre Ticket Office, online at BroadwayinIndianapolis.com, or by phone at 1-800-982-2787.  Groups of 10 or more can book now by calling 317-632-7469 x103.

 

 

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Author

Tom Alvarez

Tom Alvarez is a freelance writer who has covered theater, dance, music and visual art for over 40 years. He has written for the Indianapolis Star, NUVO Newsweekly, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana and Examiner.com. Tom appears regularly as a contributor on WISH-Channel 8''s "Indy Style." Also an actor/model, Tom is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

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