Jukebox musical has talented cast



Pictured from left to right are the cast of “Jersey Boys”: Chris Stevens, Corey Greenan, Jonny Wexler and Tommaso Antico. “Jersey Boys” is a multiple Tony Award winning musical.

SHELBY WELSCH, Theater & Event Critic

“Jersey Boys” is a hit jukebox musical that is presented documentary-style and follows the formation, success and eventual breakup of the 1960s rock ‘n’ roll band, “The Four Seasons.” The musical ran on Broadway from 2005 to 2017 and has received much critical acclaim, including four 2006 Tony Awards (one for Best Musical), and the 2009 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical.

The musical came to life when Bob Gaudio, an original Four Seasons member, sought to create a musical that shared the true story behind the band’s success and to emphasize how difficult it was for the boys to receive the acclaim they deserved. Their story highlights the true rags to riches archetype, with some of the boys having served jail time, and how they cleaned up their act and made something out of their talents.

Songs like “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Sherry,” “Walk Like a Man” and “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night),” are all popular Four Seasons originals that each have a chance to shine within this show.

The Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center (GBPAC) hosted three performances of “Jersey Boys” on Friday, Feb. 23 and Saturday, Feb. 24. The theater group has been traveling for months now and will continue to travel to perform this popular tale around the globe well into summertime.

The acting and singing in this production was phenomenal. While all of the actors that played the boys in the “Four Seasons” sang beautifully together, I was particularly blown away by Jonny Wexler who played Frankie Valli.

Wexler may not have been the best actor on the stage that night, but the guy sure did have some wicked good pipes. And he sounded so similar to the real Frankie Valli that I was seriously wondering if Wexler was actually his clone. Valli is famous for his chilling falsettos and distinct twang in his voice, and Wexler was able to execute this unique sound nearly perfectly.

It was fun to be able to hear familiar songs that I grew up listening to, and a couple that I particularly enjoyed seeing on stage were “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” Both had that fun doo wop sound and energy that got the audience members’ shoulders bouncing, feet tapping and fingers snapping along to the beat.

Some criticism I could offer is in regards to the mix of the sound system. The singing parts sounded great, almost so great that they sounded like recorded tracks. However, when it came to the plain speaking parts, it seemed like the mics needed to be cranked up a hair or two more, because I could only catch around 80 percent of what was being spoken. Yes, it is a musical, and thus I would much rather have the songs be louder than the speaking parts. But, when the curtains rolled down at the end of the show, the only regret I was left with was that I wished I didn’t have to focus so incredibly hard on the speaking just to simply decipher what was being said.

All in all, I had a great time seeing “Jersey Boys” live. With bird-like singing and fun, familiar song choices, I often wondered throughout its duration if I was still in Cedar Falls, Iowa in the beautiful Gallagher Bluedorn, or if I had been transported back in time to a 1960s nightclub in New Jersey.