Cast, music great in 'Jersey Boys'
From left, Brandon Andrus, Brad Weinstock, Jason Kappus and Colby Foytik star in "Jersey Boys," playing Tuesday through Sept. 23 at the Benedum Center.
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"Jersey Boys," the musical based on the lives of The Four Seasons and its breakout star, Frankie Valli, returned to Pittsburgh packing the chart-topping hits and compelling story that catapulted the show to worldwide acclaim. Seeing the show again feels like a reunion with old friends who have dropped by to relive the glory days and the rough times, accompanied by a soundtrack to die for.
Not your typical jukebox musical, "Jersey Boys" is based on the band's true-life story. Lead singer Frankie Valli's trademark falsetto is delivered by Brian Weinstock (Boq in the "Wicked" tour that was here in 2008). His Frankie is both nervous and nervie when we meet him as a teenage street singer. He encounters back-room baddies sporting the Italian-New Jersey flavor and profanity-laced dialogue of TV's "The Sopranos" and is discovered by the charismatic Tommy DeVito, a singer-musician who recognizes that Frankie "has the voice of an angel."
Colby Foytik captures the complexities of Tommy, a character at once lovable and magnetic, dangerous and self-serving. His energy as a narrator propels the story, while each of the band members takes a turn addressing the audience.
With bassist Nick Massi (Brandon Andrus), Tommy and Frankie struggle mightily before being introduced to Bob Gaudio (Jason Kappus) by a future Hollywood actor -- you won't be surprised to find out he's a Jersey boy. Gaudio is bursting to write for Frankie's voice, and suddenly The Four Season explodes on the scene with three No. 1 songs: "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Walk Like a Man" -- a high point of any "Jersey Boys" production.
Even if you didn't grow up in the 1960s, at least some of these songs have to have been playing within earshot in the decades since the band could do no wrong. "Dawn (Go Away)," "Beggin," "Let's Hang On (To What We've Got)," "C'mon Marianne" ... the list goes on and on.
- Where: PNC Broadway Series Across America -- Pittsburgh at Benedum Center, Downtown
- When: Through Sept. 23. 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays
- Tickets: $29-$143.25. 412-456-4800 or pgharts.org
As a repeat viewer of "Jersey Boys," there were no surprises left in the crimes, tragedies and heroic gestures that unfold in the book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, but there were other pleasures to watch for; for example, the prolifically talented Jersey Girls. The three actresses -- Natalie Gallo of New Castle and Point Park University, Kaleigh Cronin of Carnegie Mellon and Rachel Schur, a Floridian who came to CMU for pre-college courses -- play 50 roles among them.
They pull off multiple roles and quick changes without a hitch, while the guys have the tough task of embodying people many audience members feel a personal connection with, through their music, at least.
Lighter moments include Mr. Andrus breaking out of his low-key role with a sudden outburst, or when Mr. Kappus' Gaudio enjoys "a personal first," the inspiration for "Oh, What a Night."
We also suffer through Tommy's clueless arrogance and Frankie's familial heartbreak.
It was through music that four Jersey boys found harmony, as well as an appreciative audience.
Where: PNC Broadway Series Across America -- Pittsburgh at Benedum Center, Downtown
When: Through Sept. 23. 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: $29-$143.25. 412-456-4800 or pgharts.org
First Published September 10, 2012 12:52 am