Alright, it’s confession time: I love musicals. Not in a wildly rabid way, mind you; I get caught up and carried away by the bright lights, upbeat songs and endless charm that accompanies a live, if sometimes sappy, musical performance.
Winner of the 2006 Tony Award for Best Musical, Jersey Boys is playing at the National Theatre October 1 through December 12. Jersey Boys is not a musical in the typical sense of the word—the actors don’t necessarily break out into song each time they tie their shoes—but the show certainly fits the bill in terms of big, glamorous production.
Centering on the tale of how Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons rose to fame from an obscure New Jersey neighborhood, Jersey Boys chronicles the lives of the group’s four members: Tommy DeVito, the smooth-talking player and resident bad boy of the group, Nick Massi, a quiet force with a low voice, Bob Gaudio, an ambitious kid aiming to be more than just a one-hit wonder, and, of course, Frankie Valli, a fresh-faced lead with incredible range.
Starting out as The Four Lovers, the group, and the show, don’t truly gain momentum until the four band mates are united upon the same stage, making music together. After getting signed, the group finally becomes The Four Seasons, and get the chance to record. Added to the mix is a revolving door of other characters, including various policemen, a Mafioso complete with muttered Italian phrases, and flamboyant studio executives.
As the group upgrades to shinier, sparklier jackets and improves their in-sync dance moves—becoming true celebrities—the four leads cheerfully experiment with the raunchier sides of stardom, including women, gambling and “the Great American Wet Dream,” a Cadillac.
At times quite touching, the show tries to strike a balance between the story of the band and the story of the people behind the name. The big lights and production pieces often overshadow the band mates’ quieter, more personal moments embedded within the show. Those moments, while not part of the giant musical vehicle, help to contextualize the band’s career.
The show would be the perfect event for a 1962 high school reunion, and indeed most of the audience was the appropriate age for such an occasion. With more than a few feet tapping and heads bopping in the audience, the stars fed off the energy in the audience.
Notwithstanding an older crowd and an endless number of digs at New Jersey, Jersey Boys is charming to its core, especially if, like me, you have a healthy love for musicals. Guaranteed to put a smile on even the most stressed of college students, the show is good for some old-fashioned fun and a night on the town. If you’re looking to see some fairly innocent shenanigans and escape from the onslaught of midterms, Jersey Boys is your show and certainly worth the trek off campus.
This rollicking good time does not come cheaply or easily. Tickets start at $51.50, and while the National Theatre is not hard to get to from Metro Center, it’s still not particularly close to campus—but it could make for the perfect outing on parents’ weekend.