Cory Jeacoma, Matthew Dailey, Aaron De Jesus, and Keith Hines in “Jersey Boys.”
I’m probably one of the few living souls that has never seen the play based on the rise and fall of a young brood of Italian thugs from up north (though I know the storyline). The Broadway play “Jersey Boys” has crooned it’s way to the south and landed at the Belk Theater for four days of bandstand behavior.
The place was packed with silver-haired foxes of both genders who were eagerly awaiting tunes of their adolescence. At curtain call, you could hear the expected ‘woo’s’ and ‘yeah’s’ echoing throughout, overjoyed to be in the house.
Suddenly a slicked haired Tommy DeVito (Matthew Dailey) appears with a mouth-twisting ‘Joisey’ tongue to start the show. The show that so many love and adore based on Frankie Valli and the ever name-changing quartet, The Four Seasons. The show, based on the book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, easily transforms Belk Theater into a 1960’s smokey nightclub, minus the kitten heels and mini-skirts (though I did notice a few of both around me). Bob Gaudio’s music and Bob Crewe’s lyrics seemed to invite sing-along’s from ecstatic audience members. One female patron even commenced to a solo dance number, standing at her seat, heavily swaying from side to side, to ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” in Act II.
Notable tunes such as “Earth Angel”, “Sherry”, and “Big Girl’s Don’t Cry” received heavy whistles and cheers. Aaron DeJesus as Franki Valli could not have been a better match. DeJesus’ falsetto could rival many female soprano’s I’ve heard. There was not a crack or a flat note all night. And when a male voice reaches extraordinarily high, a quiver or two is expected. De Jesus wowed the crowd, earning a standing ovation at closing.
Keith Hines as the drab-toned Nick Massi was doable. He was simple, predictable, and dry, I assume, just like the real Massi. It’s hard to believe a person spoke in such a throaty voice and could still belt out a tune.
Between F-bombs and every other derogatory four-letter word being tossed in the air like thin crust pizza, the four gents handled the seedy language as true Jersey boys would – without blinking. I cringed each time one of those words flew out of their mouths, but only because a preteen sat directly in front of me (accompanied by both parents and older sister). During intermission, his mother informed me that he was handling it quite well and actually understood most of the jokes. While I don’t recommend children under the age of 18 attend, I doubt that kid is having nightmares about the intimate moments, and the portrayal of Bob Gaudio (Cory Jeacoma) losing his virginity to a blonde groupie.
The loss of virginity was surprisingly a comical moment in the performance, while losing children, money, marriages and, friendships were more serious. The group experienced countless highs and lows throughout their decade plus reign on the charts. The day DeVito introduced Valli to the group of many names, and the stage, a tumultuous partnership ensued and ultimately cost the members more than they could imagine.
For more information, visit www.blumenthalarts.org.
Image courtesy of Jeremy Daniel