Broadway In Chicago is currently presenting the Tony Award winning JERSEY BOYS, directed by two-time Tony Award-winner Des McAnuff in a limited one-week engagement through April 7, 2019 at The Auditorium Theatre, 50 Ida B. Wells Dr., Chicago.
Written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe and choreography by Sergio Trujillo, the multiple national and international award winning and record-breaking musical is the story of the beloved iconic musical group Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The JERSEY BOYS, Frankie Valli (Johnny Wexler), Tommy DeVito (Corey Greenman), Bob Gaudio (Eric Chambliss) and Nick Massi (Jonathan Cable) are a well-selected team with personality and talent to spare.
JERSEY BOYS is unique as a musical, presenting a bevy of recognizable and sing-along-able hits along with a very frank if tongue-in-cheek look at the backstory, career development and eventual demise of the original Four Seasons. What is even more compelling is the refreshing angle of rotating the presentation of the story through the viewpoints of all 4 of the central characters, and also filtered through the four seasons of the year.
The music as presented throughout the show was often startlingly close to the original songs- after a brief hip-hop style introduction. In particular, Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Oh What A Night, Walk Like A Man, Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You, Silhouettes, My Boyfriend’s Back, Rag Doll and Working My Way Back To You tugged at the heartstrings of memory, as well as making the body move in time with the tunes.
However, the cavernous depth of the Auditorium, and especially the enormous ceiling sometimes seemed to swallow up nuances of the sound, putting extra pressure on the singers whose voices would have benefitted from a smaller venue and better acoustical control. Nonetheless, the distinctive Four Seasons sound came across with an uncanny approximation by Wexler of Valli’s high-range vocal pyrotechnics.
Combining 3 winning featured women colleagues, (Ashley Bruce, Chloe Tiso, and Jessica Wockenfuss), a good band augmented with synthesizers, and agile dance/fighting techniques, the ensemble presents the saga of New Jersey neighborhood guys who struggle to fame and fortune despite DeVito’s compulsion to gamble away their earnings, forget to pay taxes, and the tendency of several of the original Seasons to drop out altogether.
Other characters who adorned the action and also belted out the lyrics include Tony L. Clements, Rick Desloge, Wade Dooley, Todd DuBail, Caitlin Leary, Kevin Patrick Martin, Jeremy Sartin and Kit Treece, all of whom further the action while presenting the poignant and very believable personal stories depicting emotional trials and tribulations of the group’s members. One of the strongest devices used by the writers is that of using the songs themselves as emblematic of the stages of the Seasons’ growth as individuals and as a band.
The set designed by Klara Zieglerova succeeds well in conveying the industrial nature of New Jersey, and is easily transmuted into a recording studio, a bar, or a kitchen table with the use of metallic-inspired spiral staircases and wire fencing. Michael Clark’s ingenious projections reveal the cast as the band interspersed with actual footage from live American tv shows, most notably the Ed Sullivan show, that highlight the impression that this is “the real story”.
Kudos to the superb JERSEY BOYS design and production team: Klara Zieglerova, Scenic Designer; Jess Goldstein, Costume Designer; Howell Binkley, Lighting Designer; Steve Canyon Kennedy, Sound Designer; Michael Clark, Projections Designer; , Charles G. LaPointe, Wig and Hair Designer; Steve Rankin, Fight Director; Steve Orich, Orchestrations; and Alan J.Plado Music Director.
Individual tickets are on-sale now and range in price from $30-$115, with a select number of premium tickets available. Tickets are available now for groups of 10 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710 or emailing GroupSales@BroadwayInChicago.com. For more information, go to Broadway in Chicago website
For information and tickets to all the great shows at The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, go to auditorium theatre website
All photos by Joan Marcus