Jersey Boys

August 22, 2019

in Musicals

Musical (2005)
Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Music by Bob Gaudio
Lyrics by Bob Crewe
Directed and Choreographed by Kevin P. Hill
Music Direction by Milton Granger

North Shore Music Theatre
Beverly, MA
August 6 – September 1, 2019

With Andrés Acosta (Tommy DeVito), Luke Hamilton (Bob Gaudio), Jonathan Mousset Alonso (Frankie Valli), Alex Puette (Nick Massi), Barry Anderson (Bob Crewe)

Jersey Boys

Andrés Acosta as Tommy DeVito
Luke Hamilton as Bob Gaudio
Jonathan Mousset Alonso as Frankie Valli
Alex Puette as Nick Massi
in “Jersey Boys”
Photo: Paul Lyden
Courtesy of North Shore Music Theatre

A lively and fun version of the musical about rock and roll phenomena Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons

The rock and roll group The Four Seasons, which gained fame in 1960, and its hits – Sherry, Rag Doll, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Working My Way Back To You – are familiar to almost anyone who has listened to popular music. Less well known are the internal dramas surrounding the group which this entertaining but dramatic musical details.

Originated by guitarist and singer Tommy DeVito (Andrés Acosta), the group grew to four members, including bassist Nick Massi (Alex Puette), songwriter and keyboardist Bob Gaudio (Luke Hamilton), and lead tenor Frankie Valli (Jonathan Mousset Alonso). Gaining considerable fame with Gaudio’s hastily written Sherry (1962), the group’s promises soared. But DeVito had an indulgent and monomaniacal streak which caused all kinds of heartache.

Bob Gaudio claims it took him all of fifteen minutes to write The Four Seasons hit Sherry, which was originally titled Jackie Baby in honor of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

How they fared together and as individuals frames the basic drama, which, strikingly and remarkably, through the literary talents of book authors Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, come through as significant. Whether the group stays together, whether they manage to patch up problems caused by DeVito, whether some remnant of the group will be able to succeed despite frailties and fracturings, all seem like major issues here because of the quality of that writing.

As well, the script is quite witty. At various intervals, any number of fast lines appear. Whattya think of our new name? asks one of the members of Bob Crewe (Barry Anderson), their producer-lyricist. It’s great, and Vivaldi thought so too, he answers. Just one of many such lines, which keeps things light and rolling along.

The staging in the round at the North Shore Music Theatre is clever and adept. When necessary, the central stage prop rotates, but, as well, performers circle, multiply in every direction, and give all arcs of the audience chances to get in on everything.

The acting and singing are quite good throughout. As Frankie, Jonathan Mousset Alonso does a great job of imitating his voice as it develops into its almost surreal counter-tenor. There are times, early on, when the voice is a bit squelched, and then, by the end, it’s attained an almost birdlike intensity.

As Bob Gaudio, Luke Hamilton is by turns witty, graceful and intense. He also has a very good singing voice which doesn’t get much individual airtime but which shows its stuff once in awhile.

As Bob Crewe, Barry Anderson is hilarious. He gives enough of a suggestion of a closeted gay man without being too obvious about it. And he also conveys a sense of a hard-boiled and savvy producer with a wry and sharp way about him.

Andrés Acosta, as the heavy Tommy DeVito, puts in good time, as does Alex Puette as Nick Massi. Massi has a very funny riff late in the show in which he complains about having to room with DeVito over their many years of touring. It’s raw, explicit and drew an ovation from the audience.

Music direction is very adept and staging overall is well done. The support choreography of the various singers is quite well done and non-intrusive. The actors, when moving during performance, actually give a sense of the real Four Seasons.

Of course, a big part of this show is listening to all the great Four Seasons hits, with a bonus or two like Who Wears Short Shorts, written by a teenaged Bob Gaudio but performed by The Royal Teens, and My Boyfriend’s Back performed originally by The Angels.

I had seen the 2014 film but never the staged version, which I thought brought both the drama and the integrated music forward more adeptly than did the film.

Overall: An entertaining and well-staged, played, and sung version of the successful Broadway show.

– BADMan

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