Can't Take Our Eyes Off of 'Jersey Boys' at New World Stages
The timeless music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is still going strong at the New World Stages in New York City. As the jukebox musical that defined an entire genre, Jersey Boys is bringing forward songs like "Sherry" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" to a new generation of fans who are looking for unlikely heroes in the most unlikely of places. Hey, could you really not root for a couple of scrappy underdogs from the mean streets of Jersey?
The numbers don't lie. During the original run of Jersey Boys at the August Wilson Theatre, the show grossed more than $500 Million according to Playbill. There's several reasons for that. Besides nostalgia, one reason is that the story of Frankie Valli and his band of outsiders rising to the top of the music industry is the absolute embodiment of the 'American Dream.' Not having any connections to the major players in the business, the Four Seasons fought tooth and nail to get their voices heard, particularly Valli's. Using their street smarts (and cunning charm,) the fellas became overnight sensations.
For younger audiences who never got to see the real Four Seasons in their heyday, Jersey Boys provides many concert-styled performances that get you clapping and singing along like you were actually there. With dazzling action provided by choreographer Sergio Trujillo, fans of show-stopping numbers won't be disappointed by the overall presentation of the show. Director Des McAnuff knows how to keep viewers engaged with Bob Gaudio’s music. Hits like "Big Girls Don't Cry," and "Walk Like a Man" get the star treatment that they deserve. The intimate atmosphere at New World Stages makes this version of Jersey Boys a brand new experience for a show that first took the world by storm in 2005. The New York Times first reported that this rendition of the show features a smaller cast, and in return, lower ticket prices. Jersey Boys feels different from its original run—and that's not a bad thing.
Much like fellow biographical musical Ain't Too Proud, Jersey Boys gives viewers a glimpse at the heartache and pain behind the group's unparalleled success. While the Four Seasons were on top of the charts in the 1960s, behind-the-scenes was a completely different story. Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi were no strangers to prison. DeVito also doubled down by having a nightmarish gambling habit that would haunt the Four Seasons for the better part of their careers. Frontman Frankie Valli couldn't remain faithful to his wife. His daughter also struggled with drugs, and ultimately lost her life. Yes, Jersey Boys is a traditional rags to riches story, but it comes with a heavy price and serves as a cautionary tale.
Music & Mojitos would be remiss if we didn’t talk about Nicolas Dromard’s outstanding portrayal of Tommy DeVito, the group’s founder. DeVito and his charming, devil-may-care personality enlivened the group and provided it with structure, while his unfortunate gambling and spending habits ultimately brought about its dissolution. We thought that Dromard did an excellent job of portraying some of the darker moments from DeVito’s life while still upholding the wit and charisma that endeared him to his audience. We were also particularly fond of Mark Edwards, who provided comedic relief with his portrayal of Nick Massi. In one hilarious scene, Massi talks about what it’s really like to share a hotel room on tour with Tommy DeVito and his insistent compulsion to use up all available hotel towels for himself. Edwards had the audience busting at the seams from laughter in his hilarious portrayal of the story.
The ability to discuss both heavy and light topics with such delicate balance and ease is one thing that makes Jersey Boys stand out in its current Off Broadway run. The musical was incredibly self-aware, at times almost breaking that fourth wall and connecting directly to the audience; by the end of the musical the Jersey Boys seem like those distant yet lovable relatives you see a few times a year on holidays and vow to see more of in the years to come.
In a similar vein, a key aspect to the Jersey Boys success as a musical was its unique capacity to instill a feeling of nostalgia and even homesickness for life in the 1960s. While there were many different historical and cultural events taking place in The Sixties, the Jersey Boys musical captures what some believe to be the essence of simpler times for the “classic American family.” “We’re not a group making music for hippies; we’re here for your everyday average joe, the working class, the mom and pop shop owners, the factory workers,” to loosely paraphrase the Jersey Boys. The musical does an outstanding job capturing the essence of that statement, of taking you back to the bygone days of sitting around the dinner table, eating your nonna’s homemade meatballs, and listening to your father—home from his job at the metal factory—as he spins tales of his boyhood in the bel paese. The ability to capture the nostalgia of an era through both its chart-topping music and finesse of its cast is what makes Jersey Boys so successful and timeless as musical.
You can purchase tickets to Jersey Boys here.
This article was co-written by Lauren Johnson.