Tuesday October 17th 2017

“Jersey Boys”

It is hard to believe, but the long awaited return of “Jersey Boys” as part of The Broadway In Chicago season exceeded my expectations and based on the standing ovation at the opening, that of many others as well. This musical story of Frankie Valli and “The Four Seasons” depicting the rise of this group from the streets of New Jersey, along with the changes it made in their lives is just as strong as the production that won the 2006 Tony Award, The 2006 Grammy Award, the 2009 Olivier Award for best new musical and the 2010 Helpmann Award for best musical in Australia and gave Chicago 951 solid performances over a two year run at the Bank Of America Theatre ( which at that time was The LaSalle Bank Theatre and previously The Shubert Theatre). Over the years since it left town, countless people have asked me when it might return? Is one of the local companies going to get the rights? Will my kids get to witness this wonderful musical entertainment experience?

Well, the answer is yes! It will be here for 9 more weeks to add to the almost two previous years. In fact, there are several companies playing throughout the world ( check out www.JerseyBoysTour.com ) and the question that many ask is “How do they keep finding the talent to produce more companies of this show?”. Well, somehow, they do! And not just talent to handle the difficult vocals that Frankie Valli did, but singers who can act and move and of greater importance take on the persona of this famed group. I have seen this show four times to date and each cast has been as good or better than the previous one.

The story, with a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and music by Bob Gaudio with lyrics by Bob Crewe is in fact a musical biography of the rise of this group with of course some fantastic music and a very talented cast. It details ( wwith some theatrical license) the story of how Tommy DeVito (  John Gardiner) and his buddy Nick Massi ( Michael Lomenda, with a great Bass voice) take young Frankie Valli into their group- his voice is one that they know will have the teenage girls swooning. This was the 50’s and “rock n’ roll” was hotter than a pistol. The fourth member of the original quartet , Tommy’s brother Nick ( John Rochette, who plays many other roles as well) leaves the group and is replaced by songwriter Bob Gaudio ( deftly handled by Preston Truman Boyd) and with his new songs, Frankie and the Four Seasons make it big.

How can I describe the huge talents in the small physical being named Joseph Leo Bwarie? I guess the best way would be to tell you that watching and listening to him handle this music, brought me back in time, to days when I had my whole future ahead of me and the world was a different place than today. Bwarie is dynamite and I would have to say that Valli himself would be proud to know just how real this performer makes the character for this 2 1/2 hours of magic on the stage. The set is the same, the direction appears to be almost identical to that of the previous production and the ensemble is as energetic a troupe a sone can hope for.

And the music! What can anyone say? “Oh ,What A Night”, ” Can’t Give You Anything But Love”, “Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Walk Like A man”,” My Eyes Adored You”, “Dawn”, “Let’s Hang On”, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”, “Working My Way Back To You”, “Rag Doll” and oh so many more. As I said in my previous review, this is a mixture of a concert and a story being told and while some of the facts may not be 100%, who cares? This is a well oiled presentation that takes us from the streets of Jersey to the top of the charts and hwile all is not perfect in their lives, these lives are real and the music and pleasure that are still available to us and our kids ( and possibly our grandkids) is very special.

This amazing experience awaits your pleasure at The Bank Of America Theatre located at 18 West Monroe Street through  June 3rd with performances as follows:

Tuesdays,Wednesdays,Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m.,Saturday evenings at 8 p.m.

Matinees are Wednesdays,Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. ( April 15th will have an added 7:30 p.m. show)

Tickets start as low as $37 and are available at all of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, the Broadway in Chicago Kiosk at Water Tower Place, The Broadway in Chicago Ticketline- 800-775-2000, at all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com

 

 

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