The new `Jersey’ boys

Who knew we were all so hungry for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons?

Last December, when the national tour of the Broadway hit Jersey Boys opened at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre, audiences whooped, hollered and screamed through the musical retelling of how Valli and his Seasons went from New Jersey criminals and nogoodniks to international fame and fortune.

The show kept getting extended and extended, and now it looks like Jersey Boys will be here at least through Sept. 30.

But last month, the cast that opened the tour in San Francisco headed to the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles, where Jersey Boys has reportedly amassed the largest advance sale in that theater’s history. Performances begin May 25 in L.A., and the run has already been extended through August.

Next stop is Chicago, and that run has already been extended before anyone has even seen the show.

And the Valli hysteria continues.

On June 5, Rhino Records releases a three-CD box set of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons songs complete with a DVD of rare live performances.

In Livermore, the Wente Vineyards’ annual summer concert series always features a wide range of acts, but you’ll never guess the first show to sell out for the upcoming season: Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on Aug. 30.

Why are Valli and his Jersey boys suddenly so hip, hot and happening?

The answer is simple: Jersey Boys is 2[1/2] hours of pure promotion.

And I mean that in the best possible sense. Even people who don’t know their Valli from their Gaudio walk out of the theater feeling like they’ve just shared a significant life event with the guys who sang “Walk Like a Man” and “Sherry,” among many others.

The show is so ingeniously constructed by book writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and so slickly directed by Des McAnuff that it manages to feel like pure entertainment and real life at the same time.

Jersey Boys is a vehicle that can pretty much drive itself, which is to say the individual talents of the actors — though important, of course — are only part of this show’s revved-up, finely tuned motor.

On a second viewing, the musical holds up remarkably well. The first time through, the experience is dazzling and a little overwhelming. The second time, you begin to see how all the pieces fit together, and it’s mightily impressive.

This is so much more than a collection of Four Seasons hits strung together. There’s absolutely no sense of “moldy oldie goldie” nostalgia here.

The new cast delivers on all counts, so there’s no shortage of sturdy vocals, suave moves and high-energy performing.

Jarrod Spector as Valli is incredibly nuanced, and his vocals are stellar. It’s no surprise that he’s ahead of his cast mates in terms of delivering a full-bodied, charismatic performance: He has been performing the role of Valli twice a week (at matinees mostly) since the show opened in December.

Steve Gouveia, who plays Four Season Nick Massi, also has a leg up. He comes from the Broadway production and is, well, seasoned.

Drew Gehling as Bob Gaudio and Jeremy Kushnier as Tommy DeVito are both terrific. Musically they’re top-notch, and dramatically they’re still plumbing the depths.

I first saw Jersey Boys on opening night last December, and the atmosphere in the Curran was, to say the least, super-charged. The real-life Valli, Gaudio and DeVito were in the audience, and the screaming and yelling throughout the show was astonishing.

It was interesting to see the musical earlier this week with a normal audience. Things have calmed down, though the atmosphere is still charged, especially by the middle of Act 1. Adults — many in the senior category — scream and shout like crazed teenagers, which is hardly your normal theater behavior (except maybe for certain performances of Mamma Mia!).

The audience just can’t get enough.

The final song of the evening asks the question: “Who loves you, pretty baby?”

When it comes to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the answer is, apparently, everybody.

For information on Jersey Boys, visit

4 thoughts on “The new `Jersey’ boys

  1. Pingback: SF Can’t Get Enough of Jersey Boys! · Jersey Boys Blog

  2. I totally agree with you! I’ve grown up listening to the original Four Seasons and watched them in SF during the late
    70’s. The “newer” Four Seasons with Frankie Valli were no slouches either. The songs stayed the same but all three
    groups had their own style and that’s where we all got drawn into their mystique. Now, for the “Jersey Boys”. I’ve
    watched the Broadway cast once (John Lloyd Young), 1st National Touring Cast twice (Christopher Jones/Jarrod Spector)
    and 2nd National Touring Cast once (Jarrod Spector) as well. I will watch the 2nd tour group again next Wed. with their
    “Frankie” alternate leading the cast.

    Maybe I’m addicted to the play (not a groupie, but a true fan since I actually watch the play from either Loge, Mezzanine
    or Mid/Rear Orchestra to get the optimum view and full musical experience. It costs a bit to watch from there, but it
    is well worth it. The rush seats are extremely limited in view and I’ve seen the view from 1st & 2nd row during
    the intermissions just to see what the $25 seats are like. The best view from there I would imagine would be
    seeing their kneecaps when they sing as a group. Not a slam on those seats, but a true factual observation.

    Afterwards, my family and I were fortunate to meet all “12 Seasons” at stage doors after shows. We had the 1st
    National Cast, 2nd National Cast as well as the Broadway Cast sign our Playbills as well as pose for photos. Also,
    we met Jennifer Evans (swing) and Rick Faugno (new 1st Tour alternate “Frankie”) at Borders in SF for their past
    Q&A and we loved hearing the scoop about their tour (they’re in CT now having tech rehearsals before leaving for
    LA), their past before Jersey Boys and other things we otherwise don’t hear about from regular news.

    All in all, I hope they do extend beyond Sept. 30 in SF. Please STAY!

  3. Hey there Chad!
    Went to see Jersey Boys this afternoon 5/15 – And WOW! It was incredible –
    I liked the fact that most of the scene changes were done by the cast themselves –
    That really shows that you don’t have so high tech to have a smash hit musical –

    I was also with my Mother and she was clapping and hooping it up almost more than me! 🙂

    It felt like I was mesmerised the entire time – With thinking all the time I did’nt want the show to end –

    It was fun seeing your quote on the lobby wall! It really is as great as everyone says it is 🙂

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