“Jersey Boys” is a Thrill, But Moves Too Fast
“Jersey Boys” is a fun play. Its story is easy enough to follow, although it nearly loses its audience in the rush of events spanning over 50 years.
Frankie Valli was just a New Jersey kid with little direction in life, up until Tommy DeVito discovered “the voice of an angel” inside of the boy. The pair then brought together a couple of other guys, bass Nick Massi and prodigy songwriter Bob Gaudio, to eventually form the group “The Four Seasons”.
If you think that that seems like a lot of plot to cover in a play, you absolutely correct. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The play follows the rise and fall, and rise and fall again of the group, leading to many false climaxes, and an unsatisfying conclusion.
Past the source material, the play shines with the talent of the four leads, minus the less than spectacular Jason Kappus as Bobby, who appeared as green as any high school production of “Peter Pan”. Colby Foytik as Tom was the standout talent, with a tone and vibrato to his voice that would make your grandmother’s heart melt. Brandon Andrus plays the likeable, one liner Nick, who is unfortunately destined to fade into the background. Finally, Frankie Valli himself; chock full of spunk and attitude, Brad Weinstock understandably struggled to belt out the higher notes. To his credit, he does have the most solos in the show, which are bound to put a vocal strain on even the most veteran Broadway actors.
The ensemble members held their own in the play’s race to present day, eating up every ounce of center stage that they were allowed. Between over 10 speaking parts, the four women casted effectively transformed into a plethora of different roles, ranging in region, age, and occupation. It says a lot when the ensemble members are able to pleasantly distract from the main attraction.
As far as touring sets go, “Jersey Boys” was able to overcome the obstacles of moving frequently with unique projected backgrounds and a permanent scaffolding. Staging would at times become confusing due to an area on stage representing multiple locations in a matter of minutes. However, it seems that the actors and production team were aware of this shortcoming, and attempted to make use of the set pieces available to them to the best of their ability.
“Jersey Boys” is a thrill ride, and will leave you with the comparable effect of a roller coaster. You enjoyed the experience as a whole, but wish that there were more “climbing up the hill” moments, as opposed to cheap thrills.
**1/2/***** (two and a half out of five stars)
-Tour, playing at Proctors in Schenectady until March 18th
-Running time: 150 minutes, with one intermission
-Recommended for age 12 and above, contains smoke, gun shots, strobe lights, and “authentic Jersey language”