Recounting the rich history and reliving the timeless sounds of the phenomenal Frankie Vallie & The 4 Seasons, the new Broadway musical Jersey Boys answers the musical-and philosophical question, "How did four would-be wise guys from Newark, NJ, become one of the greatest chart-topping successes in pop music history?" Jersey Boys celebrates legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Massi who, as the 4 seasons, wrote their own songs, invented their own identity, and sold 175 million records worldwide-all before they were 30. Rhino. 2005.
Although it squarely falls in the "jukebox musical" category, Jersey Boys doesn¹t try to integrate its songs in an artificial plotline. The show tells the story of the early-1960s group the Four Seasons, and the musical numbers tend to be introduced in context, as when songwriter Bob Gaudio comes up with a tune, or the quartet performs a show. This allows Jersey Boys to flow better than some of ill-fated peers, and the actors can shine without having to bend backward to accommodate an inane book. The show's most (only) daring move is to start with a hip-hop-tinged French-language version of "December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)," an actual hit in France in 2000. After that it's all VH1-biopic territory, but it's done with so much flair, taste and energy that the ride's a fun one. The Four Seasons had enough hits ("Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Rag Doll," etc.) to easily fill an evening at the theater, so it's left to the cast to do right by them. And it does, particularly John Lloyd Young as the band¹s star lead, Frankie Valli. Young hits all the falsetto notes and brings real freshness to the part. His "Can¹t Take My Eyes Off You," a second-act peak, is signed, sealed and delivered with a star's acumen. --Elisabeth Vincentelli