Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Also see John's review of Always ... Patsy Cline
RRA - 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 present the smash hit Jersey Boys at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
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. Together they sold 175 million records worldwide before they reached the age of 30. The show provides nostalgic hit after hit with songs such as "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like A Man," "Oh What A Night," "Rag Doll," "My Eyes Adored You," "Dawn (Go Away)," "Working My Way Back To You," "Let's Hang On (To What We've Got)" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You." This documentary-style musical features a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe.
This national tour production features a spectacular set, lighting, sound, orchestra and costuming. Joseph Leo Bwarie is so talented as Frankie Valli that the audience should be singing "You're just too good to be true" to him rather than him singing it to us. It really is one of those perfect marriages of the right performer to the right role. It appears that the very specific sound of Frankie Valli comes naturally to him as he doesn't struggle with it for a moment. He is also the cleanest dancer of the four men. Josh Franklin as Bob Gaudio finds a warmth to his character, and of the four main characters, his voice is second only to Bwarie's as a soloist. He does seem a tad old for the role of a virginal 22-year-old, however. Matt Bailey as the troubled Tommy DeVito is just enough "wiseguy" to make the character believably appealing without being too abrasive. Steve Gouveia (also a bit old for his role) is entertaining as Nick Massi, particularly in a scene in which his character suddenly vents his years of frustrations with fellow band member DeVito. The four men sound wonderful together in song after song.
Jonathan Hadley is a bit over the top in his flamboyant portrayal as manager Bob Crewe, but gets the laughs he goes for. As Frankie Valli's wife, Mary Delgado, Renee Marino seems right out of an episode of "The Sopranos." The only distracting moment in this production is the opening French rap version of "Oh, What A Night," which was so loud and distorted on the night attended, that even those who spoke French could not tell what was being sung/said.
Listening to Bwarie, Bailey, Franklin and Gouveia sing has the mesmerizing effect of going back in time to attend an actual Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons concert. As these four characters taking turns telling their version of the groups' 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, passion, heartbreak and warmth. It is a story and a production well worth seeing and hearing more than just once.
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, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. For more information on the show you may visit the Jersey Boys website at www.JerseyBoysInfo.com.
RRA - 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.
Jersey Boys will be appearing through May 3, 2009 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. For tickets and/or information on the many diverse offering of the Broward center for the Performing Arts you may contact them at 954-462-0222 or online at www.browardcenter.org. Tickets may also available in person through Ticketmaster by phone at 954-523-3309 in Broward County, in person at Ticketmaster outlets, or online at www.ticketmaster.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.