DatesJune 12 thru July 15
Every now and then a critic faces a dilemma: What do you say about a show that’s already proven to be artistically and crowd-pleasingly perfect? Jersey Boys last visited Dallas in 2008 and the reaction was nothing short of rapturous. The original, Tony-winning Broadway production is still running seven years after it opened, and there are six additional companies currently performing around the world (seven if you include both touring casts). We can’t seem to get enough of the blue-collar Garden State boys who skyrocketed to stardom with their tight harmonies, catchy pop hits, and smooth dance moves. And that’s ok—they clearly still love performing for us.
The swift-moving book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice charts the rise of the Four Seasons from just a couple of boys crooning doo-wop under a streetlight to their eventual induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Along the way there’s plenty of juicy “Behind The Music”-esque drama, a little mob involvement, some family struggles, and a glimpse into the music business circa the 1960s and early 1970s. It’s a lot to pack in, but the short scenes and crackling (and often profanity-laced) dialogue keep the show moving at a fast clip.
Klara Zieglerova’s scaffold-inspired set not only functions as a backdrop for the numerous pieces of furniture that zoom in and out to create a dizzying number of locations, it’s also a nod to the show’s Rust Belt setting. Roy Lichtenstein-style projections designed by Michael Clark add color and mood without intruding, and Jess Goldstein’s wide array of period costumes suitably impress.
But, really, it’s the songs that everyone is clamoring for. Between “Oh, What a Night,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “C’mon Marianne,” “Working My Way Back to You,” “Sherry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” and dozens more, Jersey Boys is an astounding collection of the pop hits that helped shape American rock ‘n’ roll.
Unlike other jukebox musicals, however, the music and story here hold equal ground. Watching a teenaged Frankie (Brad Weinstock) trade flirty barbs with his future first wife, Mary Delgado (a sassy Natalie Gallo), or the heated exchanges about money and honor between Tommy DeVito (Colby Foytik) and Frankie after they’ve hit it big are just as captivating as the moments when the band starts up with yet another recognizable tune. Director Des McAnuff wisely remembered that this is a musical and not just a concert.
The show’s narration shifts between the four group members so that each can tell his version of the story. We’re welcomed by Tommy, a two-bit crook who knows music is his ticket to fame and fortune. Along with bass-playing Nick Massi, he discovers little Frankie Castaluccio—he of the angelic falsetto—and soon after adds whiz-kid songwriter Bob Gaudio (deliciously wide-eyed Jason Kappus) to complete the quartet. Each of the actors embodies his character with passion and verve, with Brandon Andrus providing unexpected laughs with his deep-voiced, deadpan delivery.
Again, this is no surprise. Jersey Boys has proven itself to be a hit of the highest order, and the production currently onstage at the Winspear doesn’t disappoint. It’s almost as if theseJersey boys never left us.