Chicago Theatre Review
Oh, What a Night!
Jersey Boys – Broadway in Chicago
Jukebox musicals get a bad rap. The genre has been around since the 1970’s, but the new millennium has witnessed the creation of more jukebox musicals than ever, and with “Jersey Boys” an entirely new standard was set. Instead of a fictional story inspired by or fashioned around the songs of a composer or pop/rock group, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice created a documentary style musical about the legendary Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, depicting the formation of the group and using as its score their own music, composed by Bob Gaudio with lyrics by Bob Crewe. This 2006 Tony, Olivier and Grammy Award-winning musical is back in Chicago once again for only two weeks, after having originally played here twice before: in an acclaimed, sit-down engagement between 2007 and 2010, and again as part of the 2012 National Tour. This much-welcome current production, which feels fresh and professionally acted and produced, is every bit as good as the original Broadway success.
For those unfamiliar with their story, Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and Bob Gaudio were a quartet of blue collar, Italian-American bad boys from the Garden State, who wrote their own music and invented that unique, Four Seasons sound. Together they struggled, fought to be recorded and eventually evolved into one of pop music’s most original and famous boy bands. Their smash hits, most of which are featured in this energetic, entertaining and slickly polished musical, include early classics like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man,” as well as many of their later beloved songs like “Big Man in Town,” “Working My Way Back to You,” “Rag Doll,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and, during the show’s emotional finale depicting their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, “Who Loves You?”
Tony Award-winner Des McAnuff once again directed this superb National Tour, which features a stellar cast of actor/singers/musicians, pitch perfect sound and sharp lighting. It showcases the crisp and in sync choreography of Tony winner Sergio Trujillo, as well as Gaudio’s songs, performed as they were meant to be sung. The cast is led by Hayden Milanes as Frankie Valli, Drew Seeley as Bob Gaudio, Matthew Dailey as Tommy DeVito and Keith Hines as Nick Massi. Each of these four terrific performers passionately bring to the stage all the drama, heartbreak, humor and that incredible 60’s and 70’s sound, that’s guaranteed to spark fond memories in Baby Boomers. Great performances are also turned in by Barry Anderson as the flamboyant Bob Crewe, Marlana Dunn as a feisty Mary Delgado,Thomas Fiscella as godfather Gyp DeCarlo and Jonny Wexler as an engaging young Joe Pesci.
There is so much to love and admire in this production of one of Broadway’s most kinetic, tireless, best-written and slickly-produced musicals ever. The show offers a uniformly talented cast telling the backstory of an internationally favorite musical group, whose falsetto lead singer, closely blended harmonies and pumping, brassy musical accompaniment created their signature sound. This brilliant, powerful, heartfelt biographical song fest, sure to bring audiences to their feet clapping, dancing and singing along, is a not-to-be-missed spectacle and, “Oh, What a Night!”
Reviewed by Colin Douglas
Presented May 12-May 24 by Broadway in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph, Chicago.
Tickets are available by at all Broadway in Chicago Box Offices, by calling the BIC Ticket Line at 800-775-2000, at all Ticketmaster retail locations and by going to www.BroadwayInChicago.com. There are also limited number of $25 day of the show rush tickets available during the run.
Additional information about this and other area productions can be found by visiting www.theatreinchicago.com.