The Story of Franki Valli and the Four Seasons
Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, CA
It’s easy to see why Jersey Boys remains as popular today as it was since its Tony Winning debut in 2005. Audiences empathize with the rags to riches story of four working boys from Jersey who became pop sensations with a string of major hits in the 60’s. The jukebox musical, presented in documentary style, is narrated by each of the four band members who deliver their unique perspective on the process of band formation, life on the road, and the effects of major success and stardom.
This touring production maintains the high vocal quality one should expect, fronted by Aaron De Jesus as Frankie Valli. Matthew Dailey plays Tommy DeVito, the brash founder of the group whose gambling debts form a major plotline of the show, is both sympathetic and flawed. Drew Seeley is wonderful as Bob Gaudio, the youthful songwriter who with Valli’s falsetto, would create a legacy of enduring pop hits that earned the group entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Keith Hines is charming as Nick Massi, the slow talking, simmering quiet type.
The show is staged dynamically by Director Des McAnuff, Lighting Designer Howell Brinkley and Choreographer Sergio Trujillo. The first act introduces the main characters, the formation of the group, and the struggles to stand out and find their identity. There’s shady DJs and record company execs, mob influences and a gay visionary producer who helps shape the Four Seasons sound. The second act moves briskly and contains the emotional connections that make this show such a success. We get excited when the band finally hits #1 and appears on American Bandstand and the Ed Sullivan Show. Then the touring and more smash hits – it’s a whirlwind ride that the audience gets to share.
Its not all glitter and glory – Valli’s marriage implodes and his daughter dies of an overdose, the band disintegrates under the stress and pressure, and friendships are tested. But there is the enduring legacy of the music, what they created and how they will be remembered forever. Jersey Boys, which is still running on Broadway, is a working man’s success story that touches its audience’s heartstrings.