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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 12, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 15
Badda bing! - Jersey Boys brings a touch of the East Coast's soul to Seattle
Arts & Entertainment
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Badda bing! - Jersey Boys brings a touch of the East Coast's soul to Seattle

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

JERSEY BOYS
5TH AVENUE THEATRE
Through May 4


Even if you don't know the story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons you definitely know several of their hit songs. Their repertoire ('Sherry,' 'Big Girls Don't Cry,' 'Walk Like a Man,' etc., etc.) reads like a catalogue of American pop hits. But the story of how these four young men from New Jersey made their way to the top of the music charts is something you probably didn't know ... until now. The hit musical Jersey Boys makes a return engagement to the 5th Avenue Theatre, and does so with much-deserved fanfare.

The story is divided into four seasons, both within the group and within the calendar. Under headings titled Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, each band member - Tommy DeVito (lead guitar), Bob Gaudio (keyboards, songwriting), Nick Massi (bass guitar), and Frankie Valli (vocals) - gets to explain part of the story from their own individual perspectives. As the old adage goes, 'You got four guys, you get four different views.'

No matter whose version you listen to, the success is undeniable. Under their first name, The Four Lovers, Tommy, Bob, Nick, and Frankie started out as a group. After only minimal success, they change their name to The Four Seasons and push their first single, 'Sherry.' That song is only the beginning of a long string of hits bringing fame and of course the pressures and hardships that go along with it. After struggles with gambling, the Mafia, and group member changes, Valli emerges as a solo act becoming even a bigger star, and eventually the group is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

A TRUE GROUP EFFORT
There really is no star of this show, as all four members of the group stand out. Each of them has his own individual 'season' to take center stage - literally - and they all do a wonderful job. But undeniably the lead is Valli, played by Hayden Milanes the night I attended (in place of the top-billed Brad Weinstock). Not overly familiar with Mr. Valli, I looked him up on YouTube before the show and found Milanes' performance like watching a facsimile on stage. His movements, actions, accents (as stereotyped as they may sound), and of course that falsetto singing voice all match up with Valli's in an astonishingly accurate way. Colby Foytik (DeVito), Jason Kappus (Gaudio), Brandon Andrus (Massi), and Barry Anderson (the group's producer, Bob Crewe) are equally impressive.

Watching Jersey Boys is like watching a loop of hits by The Four Seasons with biographical information thrown in between them to link them together. 'Earth Angel,' 'Big Girls Don't Cry,' 'Rag Doll,' and 'Can't Take My Eyes Off of You' are only a few of the many songs presented. The music relates to the storyline well, coinciding and helping to further it along. All the songs are authentic with music and lyrics by Gaudio and Crewe, and it plays out much more than the average 'juke-box' musical. By the end of the night you will have worn out your shoe tapping your foot to the music. It will be a hard challenge not to sing along with the songs that we all know - just remember to be courteous by letting the professionals do it during the show, and save your own vocal stylings for the car ride home.

Jersey Boys opened on Broadway on November 6, 2005, at the August Wilson Theatre, where it still plays - more than 3,500 performances to date. Under the watchful eye of Valli himself (who has final approval over all actors representing him), the musical was nominated for eight Tony Awards and won four, including Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Best Actor in a Musical, and Best Musical of the 2006 season. The honors continued in London with the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical, and the show album won a Grammy in 2007.

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