In the 1960s, four guys from New Jersey went from the streets to the top of the music charts as Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Now, audiences throughout the nation get to experience the band’s music and see its story in “Jersey Boys.” The musical is playing at the Auditorium Theatre (50 E. Ida B. Wells Dr.) through April 7, as part of their national tour.
“Jersey Boys” gives a behind-the-scenes look into ‘60s rock group and how it came to be. The story is told in four parts, split by the four seasons of the year and each part is told by one of the band’s members.
The show begins in the spring with Tommy DeVito (Cory Greenan), the lead guitarist who claims he’s responsible for creating the band. The story transitions into summer, when Bob Gaudio (Eric Chambliss), a young, talented singer-songwriter continues to tell the band’s story from his point of view. Bassist Nick Massi (Jonathan Cable) takes over storytelling in the fall section and The Four Seasons’ frontman, Frankie Valli (Jonny Wexler), ends the musical from his perspective in the winter.
As the seasons go by, audiences get a closer look at how the well-known group struggled before it rose to fame. After a while of playing small gigs, singing backup for other artists and going through multiple name changes, the group finally breaks through to success. They name themselves The Four Seasons and rise to the top of the charts with three new songs — “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like A Man.”
The audience not only sees the band’s rise to stardom, but also everything they had to deal with when they weren’t in the spotlight. From jail time, large debts and family trouble, the personal lives of the band members weren’t as glamorous as they may have seemed.
The award-winning jukebox musical features The Four Seasons’ legendary hits, such as “December, 1963 (Oh What A Night),” “Rag Doll” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” The songs and storytelling are intertwined perfectly and make the show feel more like a rock concert than traditional musical theater.
The simplicity of the set places an emphasis on the story itself rather than focusing on the technical elements that high caliber productions often have. The set varies with props that are brought in depending on the scene — tables at restaurants, microphones at recording studios and cameras on T.V. sets are just a few. Each one is minimalistic and adds just enough to the storytelling without distracting from the performers.
On their own, Wexler, Greenan, Cable and Chambliss put on skillful performances as they take on the narratives of each of the band members. But from the moment they begin to sing “Cry For Me,” the first song they perform in the show as a quartet, they come alive as The Four Seasons. From their approaches to each respective role to their masterful renditions of renowned songs, the four actors take the audience through a captivating production.
“Jersey Boys” is entertaining, zestful and simply fun. Wexler’s lively performance as Frankie Valli, along with his wide vocal range makes each musical number more vibrant than the next. The famous songs paired with Sergio Trujillo’s dynamic choreography fills the auditorium with energy and gets the audience bobbing their heads to the beat.
“Jersey Boys” is playing at the Auditorium Theatre through April 7 and tickets can be purchased online, starting at $30.