By Jon Chattman
A show about New Jersey boys in a New York setting in Chicago – can’t beat that. The Bank of America Theatre production of the Tony Award winning hit “Jersey Boys” is an amazing trip that captures the magic of Broadway…in the Windy City. Everybody knows the story by now: the show centers on the rise and fall (and rise again) of perennial hit-makers The Four Seasons.
Playing off as “Goodfellas-light” set to music, the show – which features a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice – shows how the band went from a bunch of lowly thugs to worldwide sensations. Most of the success – early on anyway – is credited to band member Tommy DeVito, who arranges the bookings and takes Frankie “voice of an angel” Valli under his wing and ultimately center stage. The show is your typical rags to riches story – tracking the band from obscurity to fame with the bumps in the road before, during, and after. But, it never feels like a “been there, done that” production. The direction by Des McAnuff (who won a Tony for the show) moves at a fast pace, and the way in which the story is told (each of the four band members narrate the show at different parts – offering their own accounts on what supposedly really happened) works like a charm.
With infectious music (“Ragdoll,” “Oh What a Night,” “Sherry….” I could go on and on) by Seasons’ Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe, the show is a triumph and in Chicago (the whole point of this review), it’s a Broadway worthy cast performing magic each night. Michael Cunio kills as driven (for all the wrong reasons) DeVito. Michael Ingersoll and Shonn Wiley play their parts (respectively Nick Massi and Gaudio) nicely as well, but let’s face it – it’s Dominic Scaglione Jr. as Valli who steals the show. With fine acting chops and a voice that delightfully sounds like he’s taken twelve shots to the testicles, he captures the crooner’s trademark sound and makes us actually think he’s the man himself.
This specific splendid cast aside, let’s face it – you know all of this already. The show has been a worldwide smash since it opened. It’s almost impossible to get tickets in New York, and the critics all over have been floored since day one. One day, it’s going to make a helluva movie. But I guess the reason why I’m telling you what you already know is this is one of those rare occasions where hype isn’t just hype. The show’s a gem – especially in Chicago.
For more information on the Chicago production of “Jersey Boys” as well as other Broadway shows in Chi-town – visit www.broadwayinchicago.com.