From left, Adam Zelasko, Hayden Milanes, Quinn VanAntwerp and Nicolas Dromard in “Jersey Boys.”
Rick Elice said it well: “A good musical can make you thank God for the day you were born.”
I’m not sure whether Elice (co-writer of the book for “Jersey Boys”) was referring to his (and Marshall Brickman’s) own musical, but if so, he can be forgiven on the grounds that “Jersey Boys” offers one of the most delightful evenings in musical theater around.
“Jersey Boys” began life here at the La Jolla Playhouse a decade ago. Now it’s back, after a Broadway run that netted four Tonys and several successive tours, and runs through Sunday at San Diego Civic Theatre.
“Jersey Boys” tells how Tommy DeVito (Nicolas Dromard) and his early-’50s Varietones (with his brother Nick and Nick Massi) underwent name and personnel changes in the ’50s. They finally settled on The Four Seasons in 1960 and went on to make music history as the longest lived and most successful white doo-wop group, selling some 100 million records.
That came after Tommy discovered 16-year-old Francis Castelluccio – he of the impossibly high tenor voice – who soon changed his name several times, settling on Frankie Valli. Later, Jersey native Joe Pesci (yes, that Joe Pesci) would introduce singer-keyboardist-songwriter Bob Gaudio, whose songs made their success possible.
But you’re not in the theater for a history lesson; it’s that sound and the chance to hear those 34 songs (many doubtless indelibly imprinted on your brain) that will take you to Civic Theatre for Broadway San Diego’s production.
You won’t be disappointed. Hayden Milanes is a spectacular Frankie, both musically and dramatically, nailing that high falsetto like it was the easiest thing in the world.
Dromard is excellent as Tommy, the bad boy who started the group but also ran it into serious debt and even spent some time in the local hoosegow.
Keith Hines is solid as Nick Massi, the tall bass/bass guitarist who unexpectedly tired of life on the road and quit the group in 1965.
Drew Seeley’s Gaudio comes across as the real sine qua non of this group, whose talent as a songwriter and head for business gave The Four Seasons the jump on their competitors.
These “Four Seasons” get fancier stagecraft than they ever got in the ’60s, with comic-strip projections by Jay Michael Clark, dramatic lighting by Howell Binkley and Klara Zieglerova’s simple dual-level set that allows for multiple locations.
I’ve seen this show several times and every time, the audience has been – well, enthusiastic is a gross understatement. There’s a good reason for that. This is one terrific show.
“Jersey Boys” plays through Sunday, Oct. 26 at San Diego Civic Theatre, Third and B streets, downtown.
Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 1 and 6 pm
Tickets: Click HERE.
To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.