I saw Jersey Boys last night at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. I saw a most amazing performance with a touring company where two lead performances were done by understudies.
There aren't enough accolades to toss out to this cast. I'm going to have to name the performers and the parts they played, because even though I never saw the New York production, it is really difficult for me to imagine that it was better than the production I saw last night.
The audience gave a five minute standing ovation, and it would have gone on much longer, except one of the cast members insisted we all sit down and stop applauding. That was because they were promoting a Broadway Cares drive for donations to be collected as we left the theater. Even after that announcement, the audience stood up and started clapping again. The energy level was electric.
Here is the list of main performers:
Frankie Valli played by Christopher Kale Jones
Bob Gaudio played by Andrew Rannells
Tommy DeVito played by Matt Bailey (understudy)
Nick Massi played by Nathan Scherich (understudy)
I point out the understudies, because when I saw there were going to be replacements in the cast the night I saw the show, I was afraid it would possibly not be as good as the performers chosen for those roles. Hard to say, as the performances I saw were outstanding. If the original performers were better, it's almost hard to believe. Whatever! I had all I could do to keep from jumping out of my seat and screaming like a teen aged groupie.
The story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons has many dramatic elements.
It's not just the story of a singing group, it's the story of four boys from New Jersey, two of whom were either criminals or borderline criminals, except for Bob Gaudio, who was the composer of their songs, (he was the creative genius behind the group, and he was a fairly innocent guy compared to the others), and Frankie Valli who was 16 when Tommy first took him into the group. Their rise to fame transcended all the squabbling and fighting among the group. And the death of Frankie's 22 year old daughter in his later years was heartbreaking. Marshall Brickman, who wrote the book along with Rick Elice, has a resume` that would raise your eyebrows with his long lists of credits, among them being head writer on both The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and The Dick Cavett Show. He also wrote the scripts for many Woody Allen films, author or co-author (Sleeper, Annie Hall, Manhattan, Manhattan Murder Mystery).
I've seen a lot of Broadway shows and touring company shows. I used to see shows at The Shubert Theater in Chicago, when I lived there. I saw South Pacific with Janet Blair in the Mary Martin role. She was wonderful, but no Mary Martin. It was a great show, mainly because of the book and the songs. Aside from South Pacific, I'd have to say that my favorite shows as of today are Crazy For You, A Chrous Line, and now this Jersey Boys production. Dynamite productions and dynamite casts.
Here's a clip from the London Cast courtesy of YouTube:
Can't wait for The Tony Awards in June! See you there!
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