Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Well, "third time's the charm." I first saw *Jersey Boys* on Broadway with the original cast. While I found the music terrific, I felt the book was, to put it mildly, "uninteresting." I then saw the national tour, several years ago, in Miami, and my contempt for the show become more palpable, especially regarding the aforementioned libretto. Last night, I attended the new touring company's opening night, and, enjoyed myself immensely. Why? While the book is still "wanting," the overall talent and enthusiasm of the current cast gave the entire evening an electricity that was so sorely missing from my first two endeavors.
The gestation of The Four Seasons is filled with predictable clichés: from the Jersey beginnings, to the successful/disastrous marriages, incredible financial debt and family tragedy. But! Interwoven throughout are the songs. And what songs! We have an anthology of their greatest hits, performed by the quartet consisting of Miguel Jarquin-Moreland (Frankie Valli), Tomasso Antico (Bob Gaudio), Corey Greenan (Tommy DeVito) and Chris Stevens (Nick Massi.) They blend voices thrillingly and combined with the time-specific choreography by Sergio Trujillo, tear the place apart.
The success of any* Jersey Boys* depends on the casting of Valli, and director Des McAnuff has a jewel in Mr. Jarquin-Moreland. Looking neither like the real life Valli, or Italian, for that matter, he is a compact dynamo who has the falsetto to sell the songs and the charisma to keep attention during those book scenes. That said, each of the quartet has moments to shine, none more so than Mr. Tomasso who successfully underplays the role of Bob Gaudio, is likeable, and is the least caricatured. Several of the players fall into this trap and whether directed to overplay the Jersey accent, or play in a "dem-dese-do's" tempo, tend to lose the realism that Mr. Antico so beautifully emits.
Music Director Michael Gonzalez heads an octet of terrific musicians who become an integral part of the story and choreography. The scenic design, 1960's lights a-glowing, is designed by Klara Zieglerova, and the costumes by Jess Goldstein are spot-on. Howell Binkley's lighting is an integral part of the play, and the Broward Center should be thrilled that the sound design by Steve Canyon Kennedy is, by far, the best this venue has offered in years.
Messrs. Trujillo and McAnuff have led this multi-talented cast (many of whom play multiple roles) in a performance that I can now see, ran for so many years on Broadway. Up until last night I was incredulous. Now I am a believer!
Jersey Boys, through May 20th, 2018, at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW 5 Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale FL. For tickets, please call 954-462-0222 or online at www.browardcenter.org. For more information on the tour, visit http://www.jerseyboysinfo.com/tour/ Photo credit: Joan Marcus L to r: Corey Greenan, Tomasso Antico, Jonny Wexler (replaced by Miguel Jarquin-Moreland), Chris Stevens