Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
What can be said about Jersey Boys that hasn't already been said? The Tony Award-winning Best Musical in 2006 ran 4,642 performances on Broadway and, after closing in 2017, reopened Off-Broadway, running until this year. On press night of the touring production playing the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater through June 26, cast members announced from the stage that the musical has now been seen by more than 30 million people worldwide.
Jersey Boys remains the gold standard for biographical jukebox musicals, with its richly textured examination of the lives and careers of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons from the perspectives of the four group members. The touring production remains solid, with a company that includes several members of the 2019 tour cast that played the National Theatre in Washington.
The book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice begins in "Spring" with Tommy DeVito (Devon Goffman), who explains that working-class New Jersey guys in the 1950s had three main employment options: join the Army, join the mob, or learn to sing. (While he chose the last option, he dabbles in the second one.) He snaps up ethereal-voiced Frankie Valli (Justin Albinder, in for Jon Hacker) and they, along with taciturn bass player Nick Massi (Matt Faucher), form a serviceable trio. Then one-hit songwriting wonder Bob Gaudio (Eric Chambliss) arrives in "Summer" and jolts the newly named Four Seasons into the spotlight. Massi's resentments and DeVito's problems power the "Fall" segment, while Valli deals with both professional and personal challenges in "Winter."
Albinder has previously played Valli and easily steps back into the character's shoes, from the spellbinding voice to his character's path from naivete to responsibility and from onstage exhilaration to offstage tragedy. Chambliss plays Gaudio as easygoing and likable, Faucher is best when tossing off small zingers, and Goffman demonstrates how DeVito can be both musically talented and utterly unethical.
Des McAnuff's direction and Sergio Trujillo's choreography look as crisp and propulsive as ever on Klara Zieglerova's endlessly flexible two-level set, with Jess Goldstein's era-defining costumes that burst with color, Howell Binkley's stadium-size lighting, Michael Clark's pop art-inspired projections, and Steve Canyon Kennedy's pulsating sound design.
Jersey Boys runs through June 26, 2022, in the Eisenhower Theater at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW, Washington DC. For tickets and information, please call 800-444-1324 or 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org. For more information on the tour, visit jerseyboysinfo.com/tour/.
Book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice