Wednesday, May 24, 2006

'Jersey Boys' making state hip again

"Jersey Boys," the Broadway musical based on the life and music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, provided the greatest surprise of a recent whirlwind gauntlet of seven shows in five days.

There were two standing ovations in the first act alone, after "Sherry" and "Dawn (Go Away)." That's how good the musicians and singers were.

Now you can see what all the fuss is about when the cast makes the talk-shows rounds in advance of the Tony Award presentations. (The show grabbed eight nominations, including Best Musical and Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical -- John Lloyd Young -- as well as Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical.)

Those appearances are:
  • Thursday, May 25 -- LIVE with Regis and Kelly
  • Wednesday, May 31 -- NBC Today Show -- Katie Couric Farewell
  • Saturday, June 3 -- NBC Weekend Today Show
  • Friday, June 9 -- CBS Early Show
  • Sunday, June 11 -- Tony Awards

Check your listings for local times and stations.

Meanwhile, "Jersey Boys" and "The Drowsy Chaperone" will be fighting it out for the hearts and minds of Tony voters.

Easily dismissed pre-opening as another in a line of so-called jukebox musicals, "Jersey Boys" features little-known, wrinkles-and-all plot material about the band that started in the 60s and with a sound that continues to this day through the solo career of Frankie Valli.

Despite the band's best-selling career, not many stories were written about The Four Seasons, compared to their contemporaries. They were just "boring guys from Jersey."

As it turns out, they had run-ins with the law and with each other, and the most lasting partnership of the band has worked on a handshake for 30 years.

Playing to sellout audiences in New York, the musical has a good story and it has a heart. That heart just also happens to be racing along to more than 30 Four Seasons songs done so well that the cast easily performs them live in front of the surviving original band members.

Original member Bob Gaudio, keyboardist and principal writer, has been intimately involved with this production and is making plenty of PR appearances.

He's frequently told by adoring boomer audiences, "I grew up listening to this music."

His frequent answer: "So did I."

He spends a lot of time on his boat in Tennessee these days, although he's said, "Where this show goes, I go."

We hope it won't be long before it's time for him to take a little cruise in Florida waters.

- Michael K.

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