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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Jersey Boys A Second Time Charmer
at the 5th Avenue Theatre

Also see David's reviews of It's A Good Day for Miss Peggy Lee and Flashdance

A Separate Peace
Brad Weinstock and Jason Kappus
Oh what a night! That is not only the title of one of the big hits by the seminal American singing group (OK, technically the title of the song is "December 1963"), but what might well be said of the sharp and spiffy national touring company of the group's bio songbook musical Jersey Boys. The show has run over 3,000 performances on Broadway since 2005 when opened, and it won four 2006 Tony Awards including Best Musical. It has only played Seattle once before (in the 2007-2008 season), so the return to the 5th Avenue is a welcome one. It is a sideways compliment to say that Jersey Boys is the best received and most popular jukebox styled musical ever, but it really is, and that is really clear when you stack it up against the likes of the apparently crowd-pleasing but less-well reviewed Motown which is one of this season's Tony hopefuls.

What sets Jersey Boys apart is a smart and streamlined book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, which tells the story of the original Four Seasons, from the viewpoint of all four of them, throughout their career (and personal) hills and valleys. Brickman and Elice give us just enough book to support what is really a showcase for the group's songs ("Sherry," "Dawn" and "Walk Like a Man", "My Eyes Adored You," "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", and on, and on) and an opportunity for four performers to shine, and this tour cast most certainly does that under the expert direction of Des McAnuff, with true to the period choreography by Serge Trujillo.

Colby Foytik comes on strong as Tommy DeVito, whose Mafia-related debts nearly sink the group, and who ultimately leaves so the mob can keep a closer eye on him in Vegas. Jason Kappus really impresses as straight-arrow Bob Gaudio who co-writes many of the group's hits and, along with lead singer Frankie Valli, anchors the group. Brad Weinstock (Hayden Milanes at some performances) has the stratospheric high notes and confident charisma as the indomitable Valli, and Brandon Andrus is droll and subtle as Nick Massi, who keeps threatening to leave and start his own group, but never does.

Barry Anderson is a delight as Bob Crewe, the flamboyantly gay (but not out, remember the time period) record producer, and the rest of the ensemble is solid, even though there is not one standout moment provided for any of the marginalized female characters in the story.

All of the production elements are tops, including Klara Zieglerova's versatile and sparkling scenic design, Howell Binkley's expert lighting, and Jess Goldstein's wonderful costumes. Steve Orich's orchestrations are perfect ear candy, capturing the changing sounds of the team's music from their first hit in 1962 onward.

Jersey Boys runs through May 4, 2013, at the 5th Avenue Theater, 1308 Fifth Ave, downtown Seattle. For more information go to www.5thavenue.org. For more information on the tour, visit www.jerseyboysinfo.com/tour/.


Photo: Joan Marcus



- David Edward Hughes



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