Growing up, one of the things I most remember about my childhood was that there was always music on in the house. My mom had a pretty large record collection and there seemed to always be something on the turntable: the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Loving Spoonfuls, Don McLean. This was the soundtrack of my early years. This is also why I went into kindergarten thinking that the Beatles were still a group producing music.
Because of the omnipresence of these albums and the radio, I tend to be more familiar with music from the sixties and seventies than my contemporaries. This includes Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Most people my age are familiar with “December, 1963” and the theme song from Grease, but probably don’t have the working knowledge of “Sherry,” “Working My Way Back to You” and “Who Loves You” (my personal favorite) that I possess. So when the traveling production of the Broadway show Jersey Boys rolled in to town, I was not only looking forward to going, but I was excited to take my mom.
Though I’ve never seen a Broadway show actually ON Broadway, we are lucky to have the beautiful Proctors Theater in the area, which is the host to many traveling productions. I’ve managed to see Rent, Peter Pan, Spring Awakening, Avenue Q, Movin’ Out, Wicked and Rock of Ages without having to venture very far from home. The theater is absolutely gorgeous, which only adds to the experience. Because I am the Queen of Pre-sales, I was able to score us pretty great seats. We wound up with even better seats for the production because we switched with a pair of ladies who were having difficulty with the fairly narrow theater seats.
The show tells the story of how four guys “from the neighborhood” — Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio, Frankie Valli and Nick Massi — came together (with a little help from Joe Pesci. Yes – that Joe Pesci) to form the group that would be eventually known as the Four Seasons. The show is split into four acts (seasons) and tells the story of the original group’s formation and ultimate break-up from the different perspectives of the members. The show is jam packed with all the group’s hit and is often quite funny. They don’t seem to whitewash their history; as they say in the play, none of them were angels.The cast in the traveling production was excellent. The actor who played Frankie Valli didn’t have exactly the same vocals as the original, but it was close. The audience seemed to really enjoy the show – clapping along to the songs and occasionally breaking out in an impromptu standing ovation throughout the musical. The Four Seasons’ songs may not be lyrically all that complex, but their strength is in the group’s harmony and the fact that they are very catchy. Everyone seemed to leave the theater humming their favorite song. A word of caution for those of you with kids – lots of cussing in the play if that is something that you are concerned about.
All in all, it was a very fun afternoon and, most importantly to me, my mom really enjoyed it. If you are in New York City or a traveling production comes around, I would definitely recommend Jersey Boys. Familiarity with the group and their songs is not required for enjoyment. Absolutely worth the price of admission.