When you’ve seen a great musical a few times (and let’s not mince words, “Jersey Boys” is a great musical) you start to wonder what exactly it is that makes it stand out.
As the touring production of “Jersey Boys” lands in St. Louis at the Fox Theatre from now until March 2, it marks my third time seeing the show.
Three times is enough to know I wasn’t hoodwinked the first two times around by a fluky performance or that I just happened to catch the show on a day that I was particularly high on life. The show is legit.
The first and most obvious place to look is the music when breaking down this rags-to-riches biography of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
The songs are undeniably great and are the stuff Rock and Roll Hall of Fame careers are made of. “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Dawn,” “Working My Way Back to You” are songs that are ingrained in the fabric of our culture, and each hit is expertly staged in the show.
But “Jersey Boys” is so much more than a simple jukebox-musical. I’ve seen tribute bands that were more finely tuned and performed bigger hits than those of the Four Seasons that came nowhere close to packing the same punch as this show.
In fact, “Jersey Boys” puts itself at a disadvantage as it is nearly impossible to replicate the voice of Frankie Valli, one of the most unique and indelible voices of the 20th Century. In fact, all the actors who play Valli in the show have to attend a special “Frankie Camp” to try to round them into shape just to get them close to sounding like the real McCoy.
Really, as far as the songs are concerned, if the actors can just manage to get out of the way and not screw them up, I’ll still get chills when the horn section comes out for “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” Every time.
The true strength of “Jersey Boys” is what happens between the songs as the clever presentation of the familiar trials and tribulations of superstardom is engrossing no matter how many times you’ve seen it.
Each of the founding members of the Four Seasons – Tommy DeVito (Nicolas Dromard), Bob Gaudio (Quinn VanAntwerp), Nick Massi (Adam Zelasko), and Frankie Valli (Hayden Milanes) – narrates the show and gives his unique perspective of all the struggles, ego battles, and successes that made them one of the top-selling artists of the 1960s.
The show effortlessly mixes comedy and drama with good, old-fashioned entertainment that ensures “Jersey Boys” will be a timeless classic.
There are few guarantees in life, but it’s nice to know that whenever you get a ticket for a production of “Jersey Boys,” it will always be worth every dollar you paid for it. Not many musicals this side of Rodgers and Hammerstein can boast that kind of certainty.
“Jersey Boys” is now playing at the Fox Theatre through March 2. For tickets call (314) 534-1111 or go to metrotix.com.