"Jersey Boys," show #868
Oh, what a show! Sierra Repertory Theatre is gifting audiences with a pitch-perfect premiere of Jersey Boys, the bio-musical of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. This play took Broadway by storm when it premiered in the 2005-2006 season, winning four Tony Awards, including the top prize of Best Musical. Many years of touring on land and by sea, a Clint Eastwood-directed film adaptation, and now its regional run, Sierra Repertory Theatre is just the company to bring the sweet sounds of Valli, Massi, DeVito and Gaudio to the stage.
Director Jerry Lee and associate director and choreographer Ben Bogen have given this show a fresh lift from its near-twenty years of existence, making the lead artists and group that delivered such hits as “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night),” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” seem like a modern-day band dropping new tunes on TikTok. Lee’s pacing of the musical gives breath to the scenes and character connections but clips in such a way that lets the audience enjoy the true star of the libretto, its score. Bogen’s staging stays true to period-appropriate choreography the Four Seasons—and other bands of the era—were doing on tour, on the Ed Sullivan show, and at many a performance while still embedding some eye-catching nuanced touches. The execution of the choreography is crisp, clean, and uniformly energetic.
(L to R: Quinn Corcoran (Bob Gaudio), Bobby Guenther (Nick Massi), Adam Marino (FRankie Valli), and Matt Michael (Tommy DeVito); Photo source: Sierra Repertory Theatre)
Adam Marino leads the group with stellar showmanship as Frankie Valli. Every singing turn Marino takes is a nostalgic trip to that familiar falsetto Four Seasons fans have been accustomed to for decades. Marino’s acting chops receive the same gusto as his vocals, especially opposite Camryn Elias who, among her various characters, portrays Valli’s first wife, Mary. Their first meeting through their tumultuous marriage and raising of their daughter is handled with emotionally driven tenderness and humor when called for. Matt Michael is an excellent Four Season/primary narrator of the musical. Michael’s delivery of Tommy DeVito’s machismo and no-nonsense passion about making the group thrive is genuinely believable from start to finish. Michael also finds every ounce of tough-guy comedy to provide relief from the multiple tense moments. Bobby Guenther gives a greatly realized performance as Nick Massi, the overall calm, cool, collected alcoholic part of the group. Rounding out the fabulous Four Seasons is Quinn Corcoran, who gives a remarkably top-level performance as the new wunderkind, Bob Gaudio. Corcoran holds nothing back in his first vocal turn in “Cry For Me,” establishing his dominant vocals and All-American boy-next-door charm.
To be fair, it’s expected that when helming Jersey Boys, your title quartet needs to be top-notch, but this play requires a group of eight to fill in the featured and ensemble characters who support the group’s journey from singing under a street lamp to the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame; Lee and Bogen have not given short shrift to this detail. Sebastian Rohn is a vocal and comedic standout, especially as the pre-famous Joey Pesci; Greg Parker gives grounding to his various characters, especially the intimidating but fiercely loyal Gyp; Charlie Munday is loveable and hilariously blunt as Four Season early producer, Bob Crewe. Elias, Alexandra Shephard, and female swing Kate Henderson, deliver fabulous vocals in “My Boyfriend’s Back,” and acting turns throughout their various roles, with Shephard standing out as Lorraine. Sergio Salinas and Christopher Michael round out the featured cast with superb dancing and vocal chops in support of the company numbers.
Technically, the lighting design by Jonnie Painter is outstanding, giving the intimacy needed for the book scenes and concert-feel when the Four Seasons start blowing up in popularity. Randall Enlow’s minimal scenic design gives way for Bogen and Lee’s staging to be focused well, and George Deavours’ wig design is on point with recognizable styles for the band specifically, and for the era in general.
Jersey Boys will continue rocking out at Sierra Rep’s Fallon House Theater through August 27th, but why delay in booking your date with the Four Seasons and company now, huh? Go see this show!