Wednesday, January 22, 2020

“JERSEY BOYS” --“Oh, What a Night,” once again, at the Connor Palace

It’s back!  “JERSEY BOYS,” the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, is back in residence at the Connor Palace in Playhouse Square for a short run. 

How many times can one see the show and still appreciate it?  Obviously from the large enthusiastic crowd who braved the cold to get to opening night, the answer to “JERSEY BOYS” is, “As many times as the powers that be bring it back!”

“JERSEY BOYS” is a jukebox musical, a compilation of formerly written songs shoehorned into a story line.  In this case, it is a fairly well-written documentary about the formation, success and break-up of the 1960’s rock ‘n roll group, The Four Seasons, who went from delinquent “Joisy” boys to become inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The musical, which opened in 2005 and ended its Broadway run on January 15, 2017, has music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe, and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice.  

Divided into four sections, each designated by the name of a season, each segment is narrated by a different member of the musical group.  As the story chronologically unfolds, over 30 songs are presented.

Yes, every tune in their folio of hits is artfully staged by director Des McAnuff and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, including “Oh, What a Night,” “Earth Angel,” “Cry for Me,” “Sherry,” ”Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “My Eyes Adored You,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” 

The story reveals that some members of the group served prison sentences, which ran counter to the clean-cut image the quartet portrayed.  Included in their altercations was a stint in a Cleveland jail for skipping out on a Holiday Inn hotel bill. (This revelation drew extended cheers from the audience, as did the reference to their being installed in the Cleveland-housed Rock museum.

At the start of the show, Tommy DeVito explains the start of the band, “The Variety Trio,” which was composed of his brother, and friend Nick Massi.  Later Frankie Castelluccio (Frank Valli) was recruited.  The tale rolls from there through many group name changes, the recommendation by Joe Pesci (yes, THE Joe Pesci who later became an Oscar-winning movie star) of adding Bob Gaudio, who became the main composer for the Four Seasons. 

The show is filled with creative musical and visual moments.  Highlights were “Pretty Baby,” “Bye Bye Baby” “Working My Way Back to You,
 and the finale, “Who Loves You.”

The cast is strong.  Jon Hacker stars as Frankie Valli.  He creates a real Valli, well-duplicating the singer’s famed falsetto.  Corey Greenan is the sleazy Joisy-bred and neighborhood-loyal Tommy DeVito.  Handsome Eric Chambliss is character-right as the prolific, clean-scrubbed, creative, Bob Gaudio.  Michael Milton gives fidelity to Nick Massi, the reluctant performer.  Though he over-does the fay illusion, Sean McGee is a crowd-pleaser as the effervescent Bob Crewe.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT:  JERSEY BOYS fanatics and newbies will all have a wonderful time at this revival of a revival.  Oh, yes, “Oh, What a Night.”  You’ll be “Beggin’” to “Stay” for another curtain call!  You’ll leave clapping, singing and dancing down the aisle. 

Tickets for “JERSEY BOYS,” which runs through January 26, 2020 at the Connor Palace Theatre, can be ordered by calling 216-241-6000 or going to