"Jersey Boys" at the Forrest Theatre Just Too Good To be True
The Broadway blockbuster is on the move around the country with a Vegas-style tour that packs a punch. This Tony Winner is the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons rise from small-time hoods in and out of jail and failed relationships to singing themselves all the way to the Rock’n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
This jukebox musical has all the elements of tell a story, sing a song over and over. If you can endure the first 40 minutes of the boys finding the right song, the right name, the bail money then you will enjoy the great music they eventually offer. The supposed real life story while well told is more like flash speed episodes of Goodfellas or the Sopranos, excessive profanity included. The songs, while very impressive rarely apply to the scenes. If you’re okay with this you may see why so many people flock to this show; to hear them sing and sing they do! By far the best ingredient of Jersey Boys success is the music.
The Jersey Boys Philadelphia cast includes Matt Bailey (Tommy DeVito), Joseph Leo Bwarie (Frankie Valli), Steve Gouveia (Nick Massi) and Quinn VanAntwerp (Bob Gaudio). Bwarie’s voice and falsetto is a dead ringer for Valli as he ‘sings like an angel.’ Van Antwerp’s Bob Gaudio is vocally a plus to the quartet, however Gouveia’s Nick Massi’s leave a lot to be desired both vocally is a bit understated in his role. Matt Bailey plays a colorful and probably the most authentic “Italian” among the group. Together they wail out winners such as “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like A Man,” and “Working My Way Back to You.” Bwarie captures the crowd with “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”
While this is a male- heavy cast, there are three “Jersey girls” Denise Payne, Denise Payne and Alayna Gallo who play several roles including The Angels, Mr. Valli’s wife, his daughter and a trio of prostitutes. Fact is there so many shared roles that the chief mobster Joseph Siravo also plays the priest and a guiartist, a bit comical to say the least. Not to be ignored is the surprise character, Joe Pesci – yes THAT Joe Pesci (Courter Simmons) was a pivotal character in the boys’ lives.
The sets are minimal, functional, industrial and dreary while pop art comic, campy images appear in a failed attempt to compliment the songs. The money scene is the staging when the band sings “Dawn” as the group turns their back and the audience is giving the band’s eye view; golden lights blasting, cameras flashing. This is what fame looks and feels like for four young hoods from Jersey.
Jersey Boys plays at the Forrest Theatre through December 12. For tickets and information: www.forrest-theatre.com.
Photos: (Right) Steve Gouveia, Joseph Leo Bwarie, Quinn VanAntwerp, Matt Bailey; Photo by: Joan Marcus
(Left) Quinn VanAntwerp, Joseph Leo Bwarie, Matt Bailey, Steve Gouveia and the Company of JERSEY BOYS; Photo by: Joan Marcus