Despite the somewhat older than college-age audience at Wednesday night’s showing of “Jersey Boys,” this musical can entertain Millennials.
The character authenticity elevates this jukebox musical to a level far above others in its genre. “Jersey Boys” encapsulates a biography, musical and concert all in one.
“Jersey Boys” takes the audience on a biographical tour of the rise and fall of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The show is structured into the four seasons — spring, summer, fall and winter — each narrated by a different member of the group.
The show opens in spring on the streets of New Jersey where it all began.
Tommy DeVito, played by Nicolas Dromard, transports the audience to Jersey in the 1960s. Devito proclaims himself leader of the band and spends the better half of the first act setting the boys up for fame.
Summer is narrated by Bob Gaudio, played by Jason Kappus, who writes the songs that puts The Four Seasons on the map. The group begins to fall apart when bass player Nick Massi, played by Brandon Andrus, takes over. Frankie Valli, played by Nick Cosgrove, guides us through the winter.
The show starts slow with the group singing lesser-known Four Seasons songs and covers accompanied by a great deal of character development. Tommy DeVito is the stereotypical, hard-hitting Jersey boy with a big ego and even bigger eyes. He provides a few laughs and much-needed plot development, but I grew tired of DeVito by Act 2.
Nick Massi is portrayed as one of the undervalued members of the group, but I thought he was a star of the show. The comically straightforward singer’s deep voice and staunch appearance brought a fresh dynamic to the Jersey cast. I caught myself watching Massi most during group performances.
Things pick up toward the second half of act one with “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man” and “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night),” all back to back. Suddenly, I was transported from a theater to a concert venue. The lights grew brighter and the energy soared.
There is no denying “Jersey Boys” is fun, but overall, it’s the real story of The Four Seasons that makes this musical the Tony-award winning hit it is. Wednesday night was my second viewing since 2011 in an off-Broadway production in New York, and I found myself less seduced by the hit songs and glitz of the 1960s, but instead captivated by the workings of friendship, loyalty and personal growth within the group.
Your grandparents might love these songs, but this is not your grandparents’ musical. Between the superstar story and the authentic Jersey language, “Jersey Boys” is a refreshing dramatized Broadway production. I may have a soft spot for the Garden State, but this show remains at the top of my list.
“Jersey Boys,” presented by Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Columbus and the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts, is showing at the Ohio Theatre until Sept. 29.
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