“Jersey Boys,” which captured the 2006 Tony Award for Best Musical and remains one of the most popular jukebox musicals on the Great White Way, enjoyably depicts the triumphs and pitfalls of legendary 1960s hitmakers The Four Seasons.
Sleekly directed by Des McAnuff in one of his finest efforts and presented at the Schuster Center courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association’s Premier Health Partners Broadway Series, “Jersey Boys” chronicles the talented blue-collar troupe from their rocky evolution in the 1950s to their 1990 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Instead of adopting the common jukebox trend of shoe-horned songs taking conceptual precedence (a shortcoming of “Mamma Mia!” and “Million Dollar Quartet”), librettists Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice wisely craft terrifically authentic, fully developed central characters (not caricatures) that resonate as strongly as the assortment of pop classics which smoothly accent the story. In addition to constructing infectious momentum in the middle of Act 1 with three knockout numbers in a row (“Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man”), Brickman and Elise’s delightfully personable, occasionally gripping narrative, full of intriguing revelations, evenly spotlights the rise and fall of the group within the appropriate backdrops of spring, summer, fall and winter.
As Frankie Valli (born Francis Castelluccio), the admirable Carlos Valdes possesses a firmly distinctive, Valli-esque falsetto and a delightfully youthful spunk which effectively dissolves as Frankie matures. Delivering superb renditions of “Moody’s Mood for Love” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” Valdes greatly connects in the darker Act 2 as the philandering Frankie comes to grips with the pains of touring and his fractured relationship with his drug-addicted daughter. Colby Foytik is a charming scoundrel as troublesome Tommy DeVito, whose shady financial dealings plague the troupe beyond belief. The marvelously understated Brandon Andrus, bearing a striking resemblance to Craig Bierko, substantively embodies the unassuming, plain-spoken Nick Massi with a sharply droll attitude. As Bob Gaudio, who composed the hit “Who Wears Short Shorts” at age 15, Jason Kappus endearingly blends with his fellow cohorts, who are crisply choreographed with suave masculinity by Sergio Trujillo.
Barry Anderson (a standout as the Four Season’s flamboyant producer/lyricist Bob Crewe), E. Clayton Cornelious, Kaleigh Cronin, Thomas Fiscella, Natalie Gallo (a lovely inclusion in “My Eyes Adored You”), Ruby Lewis (leading a feisty “My Boyfriend’s Back”) and Christopher Messina are notable in featured roles.
A particular draw for men who enjoy musicals served with testosterone, “Jersey Boys” wholeheartedly entertains as a prime source of toe-tapping nostalgia.
“Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons” continues through Feb. 5 at the Schuster Center, Second and Main Streets. Performances are Tuesday-Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Act One: 75 minutes; Act Two: 60 minutes. Brad Weinstock and Hayden Milanes are also cast as Frankie Valli. Tickets are $42-$111. For tickets or more information, call Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or visit www.ticketcenterstage.com