The Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts and the North Carolina Theatre‘s joint presentation of Jersey Boys, playing now through Sunday, Nov. 18th, in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, tells the story of the rise of four young men from urban northern New Jersey, who became The Four Seasons, one of the most successful singing groups of all time. Although Frankie Valli was the lead singer and eventual solo star of the group, the musical’s book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elise divides the story quite evenly among each of the bandmates.
Several “jukebox musicals” have played the Triangle in recent years, as the fans of the popular music from the second half of the 20th century migrate to the theater patrons of today. Some of them, such as Beatlemania, are little more than a cover band, with elaborate costumes and staging, while others, such as Mamma Mia!, attempt to arrange a band’s Top 40 hits into a sort of narrative.
Jersey Boys sits squarely in the middle. The singing performances of the main four cast members are sharp and enthusiastic. It is as close as you can expect to get to seeing The Four Seasons performing live, with the energy of the early 1960s. Their backstory, based on the actual history of the band, winds throughout the show, and contains plenty of drama and pathos.
I must say that I enjoyed the musical side a bit better than the story, as there were a few places where the song choices were a bit out of sequence and seemed a bit forced, in an effort to further the plot.
The set was simple and almost austere, yet served the movement of the action quite well. The supporting band was first rate. There was no dancing per se, but a lot of choreographed movement by the band during their performances. It was all quite authentic.
The supporting cast moved seamlessly through multiple roles, and scene manipulations were never a distraction from the four principal players. This is where the production really shone.
Eric Chambliss as Bob Gaudio, Jonathan Cable as Nick Massi, and Corey Greenan as Tommy DeVito are all solid and well-cast. However, the real standout of the show is Jonny Wexler as Frankie Valli. Wexler’s solid falsetto matched that of Valli perfectly.
I’m not sure if someone unfamiliar with the music of The Four Seasons would enjoy this musical as much as one of their fans, but the audience at this performance responded warmly and enthusiastically. Sadly, the house was nearly half empty, an unfortunate effect of the recent nearby presence of the monster that is Hamilton and its effect on the yearly subscriptions for the current season of this, and many other theaters, around the country.
There still is a chance to see this lively musical, which won the 2006 Tony Award® for Best Musical, and introduce your children and grandchildren to an earlier style of music. I absolutely recommend that you do so.
SECOND OPINION: Nov. 14th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh review by Jeffrey Kare: https://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Review-JERSEY-BOYS-National-Tour-at-North-Carolina-Theatre-20181114.
The Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts and the North Carolina Theatre present JERSEY BOYS at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14-16 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17 and 18 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $25 and up, except $25 college-student tickets.
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/season-tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or https://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/369155/1551009.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6941, ext. 6949; email@example.com; or http://nctheatre.com/groups.
SHOW: https://nctheatre.com/shows/jersey-boys, https://www.facebook.com/events/2126764284317322/, and https://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/events/jersey-boys.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.jerseyboysinfo.com/tour/vids/Jersey_Boys_OohAah2016_800x460.mp4 and https://www.youtube.com/user/jerseyboys.
2018-19 SEASON: https://nctheatre.com/show-season/201819-season.
NCT NEWS RELEASE: https://nctheatre.com/blog/nc-theatre-2018-19-season-announcement.
THE TOUR: http://www.jerseyboysinfo.com/tour/index.html, https://www.ibdb.com/tour-production/jersey-boys–499646, https://www.facebook.com/JerseyBoysBroadway/, and https://twitter.com/JerseyBoysInfo.
TOUR CAST: http://www.jerseyboysinfo.com/tour/tour2.html.
TOUR CREATIVE TEAM: http://www.jerseyboysinfo.com/tour/creative.html.
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts: https://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/, https://www.facebook.com/DECRaleigh/, https://twitter.com/DECRaleigh, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_Energy_Center_for_the_Performing_Arts, and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL-fLDx2LW6S5VJaoufYBYQ.
North Carolina Theatre: http://www.nctheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre, https://twitter.com/nctheatre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/nctheatre.
NCT BLOG (Stage Notes): http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17th, performance.
Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons (rock and pop group, 1960-present): http://www.frankievallifourseasons.com/ (official website), https://www.rockhall.com/inductees/four-seasons (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum: 1990 Inductees), http://vocalgroup.org/inductees/the-four-seasons/ (Vocal Group Hall of Fame: 1999 Inductees), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Seasons_%28band%29 (Wikipedia).
Jersey Boys (2004 La Jolla Playhouse, 2005 Broadway, and 2008 West End musical): http://www.jerseyboysinfo.com/ (official website), http://jerseyboysblog.com/ (Jersey Boys Blog), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-production/jersey-boys-394781 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jersey_Boys (Wikipedia).
Study Guide: http://www.jerseyboysinfo.com/studyguide/StudyGuide.pdf (official website).
Teacher’s Guide: http://www.jerseyboysinfo.com/studyguide/TeachersGuide.pdf (official website).
Marshall Brickman (book): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/marshall-brickman-394782 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Brickman (Wikipedia).
Rick Elice (book): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/rick-elice-394783 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Elice (Wikipedia).
Bob Gaudio (music): https://www.songhall.org/profile/Bob_Gaudio (Songwriters Hall of Fame: 1995 Inductee), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/bob-gaudio-394784 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Gaudio (Wikipedia).
Bob Crewe (lyrics, 1930-2014): https://www.songhall.org/profile/Bob_Crewe (Songwriters Hall of Fame: 1995 Inductee), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/bob-crewe-394785 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Crewe (Wikipedia).
Des McAnuff (director): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/des-mcanuff-15599 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Des_McAnuff (Wikipedia).
Sergio Trujillo (choreographer): http://sergiotrujillo.biz/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/sergio-trujillo-62708 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergio_Trujillo (Wikipedia).
Jersey Boys (2014 film): http://www.jerseyboysmovie.com/ (official website), http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/2004885/Jersey-Boys/ (Turner Classic Movies), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1742044/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jersey_Boys_%28film%29 (Wikipedia).
Robert O’Connell is new to the Triangle, but not to the stage. As a playwright, he has had dozens of productions and awards throughout the world. He has an MS degree in Management Systems Analysis. A lifelong educator, O’Connell has also published three novels at http://www.flashmobthenovel.com/ and two humor anthologies from his blog, https://thesmartestguyiknow.wordpress.com/. He and his wife have settled in Cary, NC. Click here to read his reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.