The finale of Jersey Boys features a full-cast performance headed by the Four Seasons played by (from left) Miles Jacoby, Nick Cosgrove, John Gardiner and Michael Lomenda. The Tony Award-winning musical runs at the Curran Theatre through April 28 as part of the SHN season. Photo by Jeremy Daniel
Two reviews in print this week for two wildly different shows. First up is the return of Jersey Boys to the Curran Theatre, where the first national tour of the Tony Award-winning show kicked off in 2006.
My review is for the San Francisco Chronicle, and here’s a sample:
The structure of the biographical musical, created by book writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice along with director Des McAnuff, is what makes the difference between a ferociously fun musical theater blast with emotional heft and a show that easily could have been a run-of-the-mill drama depicting hardscrabble beginnings, raging success and the dark side of fame.
Who really cared about Valli and the Four Seasons before “Jersey Boys” stormed Broadway in 2005 and kicked off its national tour a year later at the Curran? Their songs were fun, but their petty-crime origins in Jersey, their struggle to find a group identity and then their incredible string of pop hits in the ’60s were all largely forgotten.
Then Brickman, Elice and McAnuff devised a way to make everybody care.
On last thing. My original review had a final paragraph that got lopped off. The nice thing about having my own website is that I can lop it right back on:
Maybe the best thing of all is that the show itself, now the final chapter in the Four Seasons legacy, is the real happy ending musical theater audiences crave.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Adrian Roberts) laughs with Lorraine Motel maid Camae (Simone Missick) in Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop, a TheatreWorks production at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto. Photo by Mark Kitaoka
Heading south, TheatreWorks presents the local premiere of Katori Hall’s award-winning drama The Mountaintop, a fantasia on the last night in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The production, at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto, is top notch and features two strong performances. The script, ultimately, is flawed, but the intent is noble.
Here’s a bit of the review:
The Martin Luther King Jr. we meet in Katori Hall’s “The Mountaintop” isn’t orating magnificently on a theme of civil rights for all. Rather, he’s hollering after someone about a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes. Once alone in his Lorraine Motel room in Memphis, Hall’s King is further deconstructed as just an ordinary man. He takes his shoes off and his feet stink — he calls it “marching feet.” Then we hear him going to the bathroom just off stage (he washes his hands after).
Thus begins the demystification process of Hall’s play, an award-winner in London three years ago and a 2011 New York star vehicle for Samuel L. Jackson (making his Broadway debut) and Angela Bassett. Now Hall’s piece of re-imagined history is spreading out across the land.
In its local premiere at the Lucie Stern Theatre courtesy of TheatreWorks, “The Mountaintop” appears to be part of a campaign to pull the Rev. King off his pedestal. The play roots around in his humanity a bit, then returns him to the pantheon of great Americans with a renewed sense of appreciation and respect for what this man, who was mortal after all, was able to accomplish.