In 1960, a little-known band called The Four Lovers evolved into The Four Seasons – rocketing four men from New Jersey into a stardom so solid that it would cross generations. During a time that produced more than a few endearing quartets, there was something remarkable that distinguished this foursome from the Beach Boys and Beatles of the day – and, for many years, the majority of their fans didn’t even realize that it was more than their musical skills that broke the mold… it was their story.
Jersey Boys officially premiered in 2005 at August Wilson Theatre in New York, and on October 30, the Tony and Grammy Award-winning “Best Musical” kicked-off the 2018/2019 Orlando Broadway Series at Dr. Phillips Center.
While the cliche tale of the struggles to the top culminating in an epic moment of fateful discovery is nothing new – the story of The Four Seasons’ path to success is one that doesn’t quite fit the standard. Originally conceived from The Four Seasons’ Bob Gaudio’s desire to see a musical created around the band’s hits, Jersey Boys is a dramatic musical documentary adapted from a preceding book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. Presented in four acts delivered as the four “seasons”, and from the four perspectives of The Four Seasons, the show lifts the veil on the formation, struggles, success, and eventual split of the band. The arrangement of the narrations provides a sort of tongue in cheek “he said, he said, he said, he said” theme bolstered by the tunes that we’ve all loved for decades. Songs like “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Sherry”, “December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)”, “My Eyes Adored You”, and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” appropriately weave into the tale – but perhaps they have a little more of a poignant meaning when framed by the context of the stories that helped to inspire them.
The cast – led by Jonathan Cable (Nick Massi), Eric Chambliss (Bob Gaudio), Corey Greenan (Tommy DeVito) and Jonny Wexler (Frankie Valli) – is endearing, giving impressive depth to a group of men we barely knew beyond the stage during the span of their careers. The personalities they displayed went a long way in setting the tone and pace of the roller coaster ride that was their story.
With just the right balance of comedy, drama, music, and action, Jersey Boys truly sets the bar for the 2018/2019 Orlando Broadway Series. If the opening-night performance was any indication of the season’s standard – we’re in for a remarkable year!