April-May 2022 - LET US ENTERTAIN YOU: Jersey Boys
By Teresa Robinson :: Editor-in-Chief
The harmonies are unmistakable. The falsetto is timeless. Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons transcended the other boy groups of the 60s and 70s, creating a new sound that still holds up for future generations to enjoy. The stories of how four guys: two from the wrong side of the tracks, a one-hit-wonder, and one with the voice of the angel, living in the gritty streets of New Jersey, became a number one hit-making group told through the Tony, Grammy, and Olivier Award-winning hit musical, Jersey Boys, on the Popejoy stage.
The opening of the show was creative. It shows how The Four Seasons' timeless classics have been sampled, by various artists, in different countries. Each member represents a season. Each member tells their side of how the group came into existence. Each one makes each of them deserving of their success and gives clear reasons for the breaking up of the group.
The casting was sensational. Jon Hacker takes the lead of Frankie Valli, one of the most challenging technical voices in the history of music. Hacker was exquisite in his delivery and channeled the growth of the singing legend. Eric Chambliss plays the songwriting genius Bob Gaudio, whose hit about short shorts hit the charts. Unfortunately, it leads him nowhere else. Until he heard Valli's voice and knew it was destiny bringing him to the group. Offering the more drama-free side of the Italian persona, Chambliss embodied the role, proving his presence and talent for the group. Tommy DeVito, the founding member of the group played by Devon Goffman, was the boldest of the team. His performance on stage is electric. Truly feeling that the group would not be where it was without his nurturing, he also showed the destructive side of that nurturing and the damage it caused. The quiet one of the group, Matt Faucher, played Nick Massi, was the Ringo of the group. Consistently saying he should start his own band, Faucher was a delightful comic relief to the storyline. Samantha Gershman as Mary Delgado gave a strong performance. A no-nonsense woman, she knew what she would and would not tolerate. It was concrete up against the singing quartet.
The supporting cast was outstanding as well. Applause for playing multiple roles throughout the show and making each character distinct. There were three who stood out. One of the cast members, Connor Lyons, played the roles of The Church Lady, Angel, Lorraine, and Miss Frankie Nolan, to name a few. Lyons offered support and a grounding as Frankie's love interest and showed such vulnerability and strength when the relationship ended. The next one was Sean McGee as Bob Crewe, the producer who gave the group a chance. He is spirited and brass in his execution because he has the hits to match the vibrato. McGee had some of the best lines in this musical and delivered every one without missing a beat. He's perfect for that role. The third standout is Antonio King. A powerful Black performer, King left us with many reasons for being a standout. King played over five different characters in the musical. Each one had a personality that shined through - from the French Rap Artist to Barry Belson to the officer who was bold enough to ask for an autograph and still take the band to jail. He was lively, hilarious, and memorable. The costuming and choreography tied everything together, showing everyone in the audience why the show was well-received. One thing I appreciated was learning something new about their history. Finding out the backstory of one of their most beloved songs made me leave the show feeling fulfilled about a group whose music I have enjoyed since I was a child.
Jersey Boys is an entertaining night out for the whole family.
Jersey Boys runs through this weekend, May 7-10, at Popejoy Hall. Tickets are available at https://www.popejoypresents.com/events/detail/jersey-boys.