Reviewed by Richard Malone
Hearing a song from when you were a certain age can take you back in time. The Jersey Boys, now in its return engagement after a two-plus-year run in Chicago ending in 2010, sends the audience on a boomer nostalgia trip. It’s a musical about The Four Seasons—a boy band from working-class New Jersey who rode to fame on the Rock & Roll wave fronted by the distinctive voice of Frankie Valli. Each of the original Four Seasons (street-smart Tommy DeVito, songwriting talent Bob Gaudio, along-for- the-ride Nick Massi, and the voice—Frankie) takes a turn at telling the story of the group from the spring of their formation to the winter of their disbanding. The music alone is reason enough to see this show. You’ll know the score. But while the songs help propel the plot, there is a great story here too. One that is at-times funny, sweet, thrilling and sad proving that ambition, talent, fame and money can create beautiful music, but the harmony doesn’t always last.
The energy is pretty high from the start, with the story really taking off when the boys have their first smash with “Sherry”. From there, the hits keep coming until the curtain falls, but the tunes will stay in your head long after. Joseph Leo Bwarie stands out in a superb cast as Frankie. He’s got an amazingly smooth falsetto and easily passes for the real thing.
Don’t be confused by the title. The Jersey Boys is no Jersey Shore. See it. You’ll love it. I promise.
My summary haiku review:
Boys from the hood sing
Seasons bring fame, joy, sadness
The songs still thrill us
At Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe, Chicago through June 3, 2012
Directed by Des McAnuff
Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Music by Bob Gaudio
Lyrics by Bob Crewe
Choreography by Sergio Trujillo
Performances: Tuesday – Friday at 7:30 pm, Saturday and 8:00 pm, with matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm