(l to r) Preston Truman Boyd, John Gardiner, Joseph Leo Bwarie and Michael Lomenda
Photo: Joan Marcus
Magical! Dazzling! ...smitten
by Jay Catterson
Oh what a night! Jersey Boys, the hit musical based on the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, finally arrived in Vancouver six years after conquering Broadway with four 2006 Tony Awards including Best Musical. Was it worth the wait? Definitely. And I was smitten.
The Jersey Boys Canadian tour, presented by Toronto-based Dancap Productions in association with Dodger Theatricals, brings all the glitz and polish of the Broadway show with an amazingly solid cast. And of course, the cast standouts are the guys who make up the Four Seasons on stage. Vocally polished and dapper, the Boys deliver spine-tingling showstopper after showstopper with panache. Nick Cosgrove is the perfect package as Valli; armed with good looks, he nails those astronomical falsetto notes whilst delivering a humble, genuine take on Valli's character as a loyal, yet emotionally conflicted man. Preston Truman Boyd combines a charmingly youthful naiveté with a crafty businessman's logic as Bob Gaudio, the boy-wonder songwriter of The Four Seasons. John Gardiner serves up a crowd-pleasingly side of Jersey crass as the troubled Tommy DeVito, and provides many of the show's dramatic moments. Finally, Michael Lomenda completes the quartet as the loveable Nick Massi. Other notable performances include Jonathan Hadley as the flamboyant record producer Bob Crewe, and strong female leads Kara Tremel and Lauren Decierdo as Valli's wife Mary Delgado and Valli's mistress Lorraine, respectively.
But what's so magical about this show is that Jersey Boys is the clever synergy between an impeccably crafted book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, tight direction by Des McAnuff, dazzling choreography by Sergio Trujillo, and the extensive Four Seasons music catalogue. This well-oiled behemoth takes the audience on a whirlwind journey through the Boys' meteoric rise to stardom, and does so with a lot of heart. Not shying away from the dark, rough spots in the lives of Valli and the Four Seasons (with infidelity, marital problems, jealousy, and huge financial problems to name a few), the writers did not unnecessarily sugar coat the story nor did they try to excessively glamorize their lives. Because of this, you believe what you see on stage. The way that the creative team have crafted the show is so mind-blowingly brilliant that when the Boys deliver the big numbers (such as "Sherry", "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You"), you forget that you're not watching the real Four Seasons. Instead, you actually feel like you're in the midst of music royalty. Furthermore, Jersey Boys is a great showcase of one of music's biggest acts; decades later, their music lives on in pop culture and fills theatres around the world. Other upcoming shows hoping to succeed on the Great White Way should learn something from this show; on all levels, it simply works. This show isn't your subpar "jukebox musical"; this is quality showstopping entertainment. Jersey Boys is definitely a show not to be missed, and is worthy of many repeat visits.