BWW Reviews: JERSEY BOYS Wows Durham
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by Larissa Mount
Their songs are some of the most iconic in rock and roll history, but their story is largely unknown. Currently showing at the Durham Performing Arts Center, Jersey Boys is the Tony Award winning story of the rise of The Four Seasons. The musical has been playing on Broadway since 2005 and has captured the hearts of Four Seasons fans and entertained a new generation of music lovers.
The band itself was, largely, simply not written about during their time or after, so the show exposes a side of The Four Seasons that most fans never knew – the money problems, the mafia connections, and the band members’ personal and family lives. The show is a fast-paced journey that moves along almost like scenes in a movie, and the music is just how you remember it – almost like it’s playing from a brand-new 45.
The show is divided into four seasons (literally – spring, summer, fall, and winter), and each season is narrated by a different member of the group. Each guy has a different take on what happened, so each gets to tell their story in his own way. The framework of four different storytellers is unique and, frankly, brilliant. It assumes that the audience is smart enough to figure out what’s real for themselves. It’s refreshing and keeps the audience on The Edge of their seats.
The four actors portraying The Four Seasons are phenomenal, from Brandon Andrus singing the deep bass notes of Nick Massi all the way up to the iconic high falsetto of Frankie Valli, played by Brad Weinstock. Rounded out by Colby Foytik as bad boy Tommy DeVito and Jason Kappus as clean-cut songwriter Bob Gaudio, the quartet sounds spectacular. The actors play their own instruments as well, which adds another layer of authenticity to the show. The entire ensemble might be one of the hardest working in show business, as almost everyone plays a handful of different characters and keeps the brisk pace of the show moving with smooth transitions. Additionally, the set is simple yet fascinating as the stage transforms into different venues every few minutes (or less!), and everybody manages to keep up and make it look easy. The venue signs moving in and out, interspersed with comic book art, are the perfect complement to the talent on-stage.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing one of the show’s book writers, Rick Elice, and he credited director Des McAnuff with an amazing phenomenon which occurs in the audience at Jersey Boys. When he explained it to me, I sort of knew what he was talking about, but it wasn’t until I actually sat in the audience at DPAC that I truly understood it – the audience goes crazy! It’s something one rarely experiences in a night of theater. Somehow, the audience completely forgets that they’re in a theater, watching a musical. They become transported, and they become part of the show – the audience literally becomes the audience at a rock concert, watching The Four Seasons. It’s magical to experience. You’re going to want to sing along.
Jersey Boys runs through November 18. For tickets and more information, visit www.dpacnc.com.