In an almost “too good to be true” performance, I couldn’t “take my eyes off” Jersey Boys, one of the crowning glory of the Kennedy Center’s 50th anniversary season. Directed by Tony Award winner Des McAnuff, the show generates a fun spirit that will make you want to jiggle and jiggle down the aisles.
Several of the songs from this musical stand out: “Walk Like a Man”, “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)”, “Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “My Eyes Adored You”, “Come back to you” and “I can’t take my eyes off you”. The show tells the story of some of the band’s songs and the origin of their name The Four Seasons.
In 2006, Boys jersey won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, after its Broadway premiere in 2005. It won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical in 2009. In 2014, Clint Eastwood made a wonderful film adaptation .
Marshall Brickman and Rick Ellice wrote Boys jersey book, and legendary music producer and songwriter Bob Crewe penned the lyrics. Four Seasons member Bob Gaudio, who wrote the hit “Who Wears Short Shorts” at age 15, wrote the music. Musical direction and musical coordination by Noah Turner and John Miller were impeccable. Sergio Trujillo’s choreography kept every step of the four tracks crisp.
The four protagonists were played by Justin Albinder (Frankie Valli), Eric Chambliss (Gaudio), Matt Faucher (Nick Massi) and Devon Goffman (Tommy DeVito). On press night Albinder, Jon Hacker’s understudy, was superb. Albinder’s roles were played by Jared Chinnock that night. The four leaders excelled in singing and dancing moves as a group on many songs.
Frankie Valli (formerly Frankie Castelluccio) is a golden-voiced singer who has given the Four Seasons a unique sound that is hard to pin down. When the band had their first hit with “Sherry” in August 1962, no one knew if they were all female, male and female, or “colored.” Valli was also a man with a complex personal life, often spending more time on the road than with his family. Besides his incredible voice, Albinder brought Valli’s complexity to life.
Gaudio narrated much of the first act from his perspective. Chambliss portrayed Gaudio as a musical savant who was tough in the music business but a lost soul with the ladies. Gaudio describes himself “as the only Italian who doesn’t like drama! Chambliss made me feel like he was the conscience of the band and the show.
What about Devon Goffman as Tommy DeVito, the irrepressible hood-turned-host? From his offbeat jokes to his demure swagger, DeVito was pure entertainment. Goffman portrayed DeVito as a Jersey badass who helped the Four Seasons play places like the Seabreeze Dinner Club at the big time.
CT Critics Circle Award winner Matt Faucher played Nick Massi as a quiet, highly featured member of the band. He said little for much of the show, but when he did speak, he revealed some biting insights into the inner workings of The Four Seasons — including some unsavory things about DeVito.
Antonio King, in his national touring debut, lent singing, dancing and playing with a contemporary funk twist to a variety of roles including DJ Berry Belson. He even added a rap to the opening number, “December 1963 (Oh, what a night).”
Katie Goffman played Valli’s wife, Mary Delgado, with the edge of a Jersey-girl. When she verbally ripped Valli over her flaws, it was as if her eyes were sharper than any laser. Goffman also served as a dance captain. Connor Lyon made me feel for Lorraine, Valli’s mistress.
Sean Mcgee’s music producer Crewe was flamboyant and acidic with the band members as he verbally practiced in the recording studio. I liked the sternness of Alec Michael Ryan as gangster Gyp DeCarlo. Ryan would take DeCarlo from tough as nails one minute to emotional and sweet the next.
The most impressive aspect of Michael Clark’s projection design was how it projected a live musical performance from the cast onto the screen above, recreating an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Jess Goldstein’s costumes evoked the early ’60s and made the cast look larger than life glam. Klara Zieglerov’s stage design was minimal but effective.
Boys jersey is not only a great musical but a great drama. If you stay until after the curtain call, you might get a bonus number. If you are looking for a memorable summer show, especially to share with your loved ones, don’t miss this one.
Duration: 2h40 including 15 minutes intermission.
Boys jersey performs through June 26, 2022 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Eisenhower Theater, 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC. Tickets ($49 to $159) can be purchased (click “View All Times”) on line.
The Boys jersey the program is online here.
COVID Safety: Masks are required for all patrons inside all theaters during performances at the Kennedy Center unless actively eating or drinking. See the Kennedy Center’s full COVID safety plan here.
Eric Chambliss: Bob Gaudio
Matt FaucherNick Massi
Devon GoffmanTommy DeVito
Jon Hacker/Justin Albinder: Frankie Valli
Jared Chinnock: swing
Amy Coelho: Francine and others
Kenneth Quinney Francoeur: Swing
Katie Goffman: Mary Delgado and others, dance captain
Antonio King: Berry Belson and others
Connor Lyon: Lorraine and others
Kevin Patrick Martin: Hank Majewski, Norm Waxman and others, Fight Captain
Sean McGee: Bob Crewe and others
Madison McGrew: Swing
Hamilton Moore: Swing
Alec Michael Ryan: Gyp DeCarlo and others
ARTISTIC AND CREATIVE TEAM
Director: Des Mcanuff
Book: Marshall Brickman
Book: Rick Elice
Composer: Bob Gaudio
Lyricist: Bob Crewe
Choreographer: Sergio Trujillo
Music Supervision, Vocal/Dance Arrangements and Incidental Music: Ron Melrose
Stage design: Klara Zieglerova
Jess Goldstein: costume design
Lighting designer: Howell Binkley
Sound Design: Steve Canyon Kennedy
Projection design: Michael Clark
Hair and wig design: Charles Lapointe
Fight Director: Steve Rankin
Steve Orich: Orchestrations
John Miller: music coordinator
Noah Turner: musical director
Casting Tara Rubin: Casting
Michael Bello: Associate Director
Danny Austin: associate choreographer