A French rap version of “Oh, What a Night” (Ces Soirées-La) morphs into the Four Seasons version of the 1975 hit tune. And for the next couple of hours, the audience is told the tale of the rise to fame of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons in Dan Cap Productions’ Jersey Boys.
The stage is beautifully illuminated and changes to many swiftly-executed scenes highlighting the band. Roy Lichtenstein pop graphics are shown on a trio of screens that also change to reveal typical New Jersey suburbs.
Between the songs and fancy sets though is a story of how these four young men from the streets of Newark follow their dreams of making it big. Young Frankie (brilliantly performed and sung by Nick Cosgrove, who switches duty with Miguel Jarquin-Moreland on Tuesday and Sunday evenings, Wednesday and Thursday matinées) learns the ropes from his older mates, Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda) and Tommy DeVito (John Gardiner). It’s a beautiful thing, watching the three meet and jam with songwriter Bob Gaudio (Preston Truman Boyd) for the first time.
I grew up with the Four Seasons hits, but was too young to remember the story behind the band. Tommy and Nick were often in and out of the joint, and not always the best influence on Frankie, but if not for their brash Italian antics, the band may have never gotten as far, not to mention Bob Gaudio’s introduction to the band by none other than Joe Pesci (yes, that Joe Pesci).
Once “Sherry” hit the charts, all hell broke loose and the band was well on their way to stardom.
I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but this production is full of low-brow Jersey humour, features a tight cast with strong vocals, and a look back at one of the greatest musical acts in the world (with 175 million records sold). The Four Seasons even kept a #1 song at the top of the charts despite being surrounded by Beatles hits.
Multi-award-winning Jersey Boys continues at the Queen E Theatre through September 23. Check the website for available tickets.