As Frankie Valli once sang, “Bye-bye, baby, baby bye-bye.”
It’s closing weekend for Jersey Boys, the show the Bay Area has come to love in a big way. I say that with confidence having heard from friends, co-workers, readers and total strangers about how much they enjoyed what is probably one of the most enjoyable musicals of the last 20 years.
I’ve seen the show four times since it opened last December. Family members came to town — they said it was to see me, but really they just wanted to see Jersey Boys — and friends I haven’t seen for far too long also decided to “suddenly” make the San Francisco trip.
Personally, I fell in love with the show about 20 minutes in, when it became clear that this was far from a Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons jukebox musical. By the end of Act 1, I was smitten, and like so many other audience members who have been captured by the show, I felt suddenly like the world’s biggest Four Seasons fan.
My affection for the Four Seasons, which began on opening night of the first national tour, Dec. 1, 2006 at the Curran Theatre in downtown San Francisco, has led to the purchase of various “greatest hits” packages and even some LPs. My two favorites on vinyl are “The Four Seasons Sing Big Hits by Burt Bacharach, Hal David and Bob Dylan” and the 1975 album “Who Loves You,” which spawned the title hit and, my personal favorite Seasons tune, “December 1963 (Oh What a Night).” On the latter LP, I’m also fond of “Harmony, Perfect Harmony” and “Silver Star.”
Even the City of San Francisco is going to miss the Boys. Mayor Gavin Newsom proclaimed Sept. 24 as “Jersey Boys Day” in San Francisco in recognition of all the work the cast and crew did for the AIDS Walk, Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation (REAF) and the Dress for Success organization.
Another family member came to town last week to see me/Jersey Boys, and I looked forward to paying one final visit to the show before it closes on Sept. 30 and heads to Chicago. Jarrod Spector, who usually plays Frankie, was on vacation. The people in the row behind us were completely bent out of shape by that fact when they saw the announcement tucked into the program. “But he was just on the Emmys. Why didn’t they tell us he was going to be gone when they bought the tickets?”
All the complaining was for naught. Steven M. Goldsmith, Spector’s understudy, was a wonderful Frankie — very youthful looking but really solid. And Jake Speck, filling in for all of Goldsmith’s roles, was terrific as well.
The show purrs along like a truly fine car doing high speed on a great piece of road. The audience last week was hot — cheering and reacting in all the right places — and everyone seemed perfectly aware that they were just skating in under the wire. They caught the Jersey wave before the tide went out.
I’m going to miss Jersey Boys — and not just because my name is on a quote over the door nearest the box office, well partly because of that, to be perfectly honest, because it’s so satisfying to be linked to a show that I really am crazy about. It was also exciting to have a show in town that excited friends and family enough for them to make a trip.
There are abundant rumors (not to mention official-type Web sites, which have since been slapped down) that say Jersey Boys will be back in San Francisco at the end of the year. Perhaps you should check back here on Monday (Oct. 1) for official word.
Until then, here’s the real Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons singing “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night).” By the way, Frankie and his boys will be performing in concert at the Masonic Auditorium high atop Nob Hill on Saturday, Oct. 6. Click here for information.