We saw Jersey Boys—the stage production, not the movie—on Friday. (And yes, it was a little weird to be at a peppy musical when all that was going on in Paris. But it’s not as though staying home to watch the news live would have helped anyone.)
I didn’t know much about this musical going in. Just what it says on the poster: That it’s the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. And not being an especial big fan of The Four Seasons, I wouldn’t have been interested, except that members of my family, who saw it in Toronto, were quite impressed with it.
The local paper, however, had given this production a rather tepid review. Story is mundane, she said. Sound is uneven. One actor is underwhelming. Ushers are rude.
I guess we should be grateful this reviewer set our expectations so low, because we really liked it.
While it’s not exactly ground-breaking, how many other musicals are band origin stories? Meaning that, for once, it totally makes sense that the characters keep bursting into song: They are a singing group!
And their coming together, with the mob ties, and the singer with that astounding falsetto, who had a “handshake deal” with the songwriter—it’s not like any other band origin story I know of, so the arc wasn’t entirely predictable. I also enjoyed the structure of each of the four band members narrating one “season” of their career together. The most endearing of the bunch was definitely “silent” Nick, who occasionally broke out with the most astounding speeches.
The only part of the play that dragged, a bit, I found was the last part of the first act. Otherwise it moved along well, with a lot of humour. It reminded me of just how many Four Seasons songs I actually know. And as is essential, the actor playing Frankie did an excellent job with the falsetto singing.
It occurs to me that The Waterloo Region Record reviewer must not enjoy the music of The Four Seasons. That would indeed make this a painful experience, as the soundtrack is composed of nothing but (one a French rap version…).
So as long as you can tolerate a little “Sherry Baby”, “Walk Like a Man”, and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, this is a fun production.