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A CurtainUp DC Review
Jersey Boys
"We put New Jersey on the map. " — Tommy DeVito.
Jersey Boys
(l to r) Drew Seeley, Matthew Dailey, Aaron De Jesus, and Keith Hines (Photo: Jeremy Daniel)
It has been a little bit more than ten years since Jersey Boys, the story of singer Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, opened on Broadway ( review, which also includes a song list). Its arrival was explosive, an instant mega-hit, and, it's still playing in New York, London and on its second nationwide tour to 23 American cities that ends up in Los Angeles in June 2017. Currently it's playing to full and happy houses at Washington, DC's National Theater.

For those who are unfamiliar with the show Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons were three guys from New Jersey and another from de Bronx. Their education, skills and job prospects were limited but their musical talent was extraordinary.

Singers/guitarists Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi, Frankie Valli (tne Castelluccio) and composer/song writer Bob Gaudio, as the story goes, started singing under a lamp post ... and never looked back. With help from a gnat-like pest, Joe Pesci (yes, that Joe Pesci, the Hollywood actor) the trio with the addition of Bob Gaudio, became a quartet that soared to success. While the musical does not totally avoid the darker side of the group — their crimes, prison sentences, and relationship to the Mob— that side of their lives is kept to a minimum.

The touring production is slick, almost mechanical, in its execution of the dialogue and songs but that does not deter from its ability to bring enormous pleasure to its audiences. What Jersey Boys is about is enjoying such timeless, emotion-filled songs as "My Mother's Eyes," "Oh, What a Night," "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," and "Fallen Angel."

The performances by Drew Seeley as Bob Gaudio, Keith Hines as Nick Massi, and Matthew Dailey as Tommy DeVito, are all good but it is Aaron De Jesus' Frankie Valli that stuns the audience. His voice, like Valli's, is extraordinary, ranging — I am guessing here — four octaves to a really high falsetto. His acrobatic dance tricks in the second act come as a surprise and his rendition of "Fallen Angel" brought on some tears and an ovation that stopped the show.

Two smallish performance quibbles: Keith Hines takes Nick Massi's expressionless spoken dialogue to an extreme (my companion called him Lurch, after the Charles Adams character) and Barry Anderson's Bob Crewe could be regarded as being offensively over-the-top swish.

The atmosphere in the National Theatre the night Jersey Boys opened was terrific. The house was filled with people who probably go to the theater once a year to see someone or something that is familiar to them that they know they will enjoy. They were not disappointed. The standing ovations would have lasted well into the night had the performers not waved their goodbyes as they left the stage. Like West Side Story and A Chorus Line, Jersey Boys is a musical that, as one of the characters says, "just keeps goin' and goin'."

JERSEY BOYS: The Story of The Four Seasons 
Book: Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Music: Bob Gaudio
Lyrics: Bob Crewe
Directed by Des McAnuff 
Choreographer: Sergio Trujillo
Costume Design: Jess Goldstein
Lighting Design: Howell Binkley 
Sound Design: Steve Canyon Kennedy 
Fight Director: Steve Rankin
Music Director: Ron Melrose
Wig & Hair Design: Charles La Ponte
Orchestrations: Steve Orich
Projections: Michael Clark
Cast: Matthew Dailey (Tommy DeVito);Aaron De Jesus (Frankie Valli); Keith Hines (Nick Massi); Drew Seeley (Bob Gaudio); Barry Anderson (Bob Crewe); Thomas Fiscella (Gyp DeCarlo and others); Tommaso Antico (Hank Majewski and others); Jaycie Dotin (Lorraine and others); De'Lon Grant (Barry Belson); Wes Hart (Swing, Assistant Dance Captain, Fight Captain); Bryan Hindle (Swing, Dance Captain); Austin Owen (Swing); Kristen Paulicell (Mary Delgado and others); Leslie Rochette (Francine and others); Jenna Nicole Schoen (Swing); Dru Serkes (Norm Waxman and others); Jonny Wexler (Joey and others); Keith White (Billy Dixon and others).
Running time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, includes 15 minute intermission.

National Theater, 1321 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC; 202-628-6161; April 12, 2016 to April 24, 2016. Tickets $53 to $123.
Review by Susan Davidson based on April 8, 2016 performance. <
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