Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Also see John's review of The Motherf**ker With The Hat
Jersey Boys is the story of a group of blue-collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks who became one of the biggest pop music sensations of all time. In the 1960s Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi, as Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, invented their own sound and wrote their own chart-topping songs. They sold 175 million records worldwide before they reached the age of 30. Jersey Boys is the tale of their road to success, and the relationships they form along the way.
Joseph Leo Bwarie is flawless as the golden-voiced Frankie Valli in the perfect marriage of the right performer to the right role. He transitions seamlessly into song after song, and is also the cleanest dancer of the four men. John Gardiner as the troubled Tommy DeVito is perhaps a bit forced in his attempt to capture the "wiseguy" image of his character. Preston Truman Boyd has a warmth and vulnerability in his portrayal of Bob Gaudio that makes his character most likeable. Michael Lomenda as Nick Massi is particularly entertaining in a scene in which his character suddenly vents his years of frustrations with fellow band member DeVito.
Colorful period costuming and rapid scene changes abound amidst live on-stage musicians and well executed lighting and sound design. Quirky supporting and cameo roles such as Jonathan Hadley as the flamboyant Bob Crewe add interest to the show. The only fleeting inconsistencies in this production are a disappointingly sung female lead vocal on the song "My Boyfriend's Back" and the unpleasantly screamed high notes of ensemble member Donald Webber, Jr. in a couple of places in the show.
Bwarie, Boyd, Gardiner and Lomenda sound wonderful together in song after song, and the most thrilling moments in the show are the ones in which they are recreating the stage performances of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. As the four characters take turns telling their version of the group's journey, one recalls that the music is just the centerpiece of the colorful story being told. The twists and turns of the careers and friendships of the original four members of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons unfold with humor, heartache and warmth. It is a story and a production well worth seeing and hearing.
Jersey Boys originally premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse on October 5, 2004, where it ran through January 16, 2005. It opened on Broadway at the August Wilson Theatre on November 6, 2005. The production received four Tony Awards, two Drama Desk Awards, and three Outer Critics Circle Awards, and the cast recording won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. For more information on the tour you may visit jerseyboysinfo.com/tour/.
Jersey Boys will be appearing through January 29, 2012, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is located in the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District at 201 SW Fifth Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Presentations at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts are sponsored in part by the State of Florida, the Department of State, the Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Support is also contributed by the Broward Performing Arts Foundation, Inc... The Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment Consortium is a cultural partnership between the Performing Arts Center Authority, the Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale, Florida Grand Opera, Fort Lauderdale Historical Society and The Historic Stranahan House Museum. It is supported by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Visitors Bureau. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts houses the Au-Rene Theater, the Amaturo Theatre, and the Abdo New River Room, and has affiliated venues at the Parker Playhouse, the Rose and Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center, the Miramar Cultural Center and the newly opened Aventura Arts & Cultural Center. For any of the offerings of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts you may contact them by phone at 954-462-0222 or online at www.browardcenter.org.
This production of Jersey Boys is presented by Broadway Across America - Ft. Lauderdale, in conjunction with Dodger Theatricals, Joseph J. Grano, Tamara and Kevin Kinsella, the Pelican Group, Latitude Link and Rick Steiner. Broadway Across America - Ft. Lauderdale is presented in arrangement with the Florida Theatrical Association, which is a non-profit, civic organization with a volunteer board of trustees established to ensure the continued presentation of quality national touring Broadway productions in the state of Florida. Broadway Across America is dedicated to creating memorable and accessible theatrical experiences for all guests, selling over five million tickets to first rate Broadway shows, family productions and other live theatrical events in over 40 North American cities each year. For more information or to purchase tickets through an authorized agent, please visit www.Broadwayacrossamerica.com.
The actors and stage managers in this production are members of Actor's Equity Association, the union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Photo: Joan Marcus