‘Jersey Boys’ opens at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

One of the longest running shows on Broadway returned to Orlando for the first time in four years as it opened at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday night. The show runs through to 4th November.

The opening scene is set in Belleville, New Jersey in 1951, as Tommy DeVito (Corey Greenan) performs together with his brother Nicky (Todd DuBail), and their friend Nick Massi (Jonathan Cable), as The Variety Trio. He meets 16-year-old Frankie Castelluccio (Jonny Wexler), a barber’s son, already well known in the neighborhood for his singing talent. Frankie has the admiration of Genovese Family mobster Angelo “Gyp” DeCarlo, who takes a personal interest in him.

One night, the group attempts a robbery of a safe, resulting in the police arresting them. In court, Tommy is sentenced to six months in prison but Frankie is let off with a warning. After his release, Tommy reunites with the group, and adds Frankie as lead singer. Frankie changes his professional name to Frankie Vally, and then to Frankie Valli. Frankie then becomes entranced by a woman named Mary Delgado (Ashley Brice) at a performance and they are soon married.

The group, now renamed “The Four Lovers”, is in need of a songwriter after Nicky leaves. Tommy’s friend, Joe Pesci (Rick Desloge), tells him about a talented singer-songwriter, Bob Gaudio (Eric Chambliss), and invites him to hear the group perform. Gaudio is impressed with Valli’s vocals, and agrees to join.

The band then records several demos but attempts to attract interest have little success. One day, in New York City, producer Bob Crewe (Wade Dooley) signs them to a contract. However, they quickly realize that it only allows them to perform back-up vocals for other acts. Crewe says that the group does not have a distinctive image or sound yet. Inspired by a bowling alley sign, the band is renamed “The Four Seasons,” and they sing a new song Gaudio has written, “Sherry”, to Crewe, who agrees to record it.

“Sherry” quickly becomes a huge commercial success, followed by two more, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man”. However, before an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, Valli is approached by mobster Norman Waxman (Kevin Patrick Martin), a loan shark for one of the other Five Families, who claims that Tommy owes him $150,000. Frankie goes to DeCarlo, who gets Waxman to allow the group to pay the debt while Tommy must go to work for the mob’s associates in Las Vegas until it is paid. Nick, irritated by Tommy’s irresponsibility, decides to leave the group.

Forced to tour constantly to pay the debt, the band becomes Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, with Gaudio now acting solely as songwriter and producer. Valli learns from his now ex-wife, Mary, that his daughter, Francine, now a drug addict, has escaped from home. Valli meets his estranged daughter and regrets not acting as a better father for her when she was growing up.

A few years later, Tommy’s debt has been paid off but sadly this coincides with the news of Francine’s death after a drug overdose. Frankie and Mary both grieve for their daughter and Gaudio composes a new number for Valli to sing, his first as a solo artist. The track, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, is born and becomes a huge success.

The show then moves to 1990 and the Four Seasons are about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band performs “Rag Doll” onstage, their first performance together in over twenty years. The music fades as the four men take turns addressing the audience and giving an update on their life stories.

It’s not hard to see why the show became a 2005 best-musical Tony winner. If the music isn’t enough then the story-line surely is as it flows seamlessly through the journey of a 1960’s pop group. The characters are all very enjoyable and although the language is a little coarse at times, the show hits the right notes during the two hour thirty minute run time.

“Jersey Boys” is playing at the Dr. Phillips Center in Downtown Orlando through Nov. 4. For more information on additional tour dates and tickets visit drphillipscenter.org or call: 844-513-2014

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