Jersey Boys at the Orpheum Theatre

Drew Seeley, Hayden Milanes, Matthew Dailey and Keith Hines in Jersey Boys. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Drew Seeley, Hayden Milanes, Matthew Dailey and Keith Hines in Jersey Boys. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

As contemporaries of The Beatles in an era when that foursome was bending pop genre and Bob Dylan when he was openly protesting corruption, The Four Seasons made music for the everyman; the underemployed of America and our boys serving overseas. This much is proclaimed proudly and loudly by the members of the group as presented in the touring production of Broadway hit and Tony-winning musical Jersey Boys (at Hennepin Theatre Trust‘s Orpheum through May 3).

It makes sense that Jersey Boys should be a crowd-pleaser. It is an enjoyably rapid trip through the band’s history, told through the contrasting perspectives of its four varied personalities. This is a rags-to-riches tale of how a trio of foul-mouthed delinquents from Jersey teamed with a talented, idealistic young songwriter and hit it very big, very fast.

The story is marked by youthful indiscretion and interpersonal friction that ultimately leads to major shifts in the group’s dynamics. And despite the show’s lengthy set list and high melodrama, its nearly three-hour length moves briskly thanks to Sergio Trujillo’s energetic choreography and director Des MacAnuff’s tight blocking and seamless scene changes.

As is to be expected of touring productions such as this, performances are uniformly respectable and professionally manicured – there is not a step out of place, albeit also nothing particularly emotionally resonant. Characterizations are largely conveyed in broad strokes, with Matthew Dailey doing his best tough guy as Tommy DeVito, Keith Hines offering comic relief as earnest troglodyte Nick Massi, and Drew Seeley commanding the audience as the charming and savvy Bob Gaudio. Leading the group is “angel-voiced” Frankie Valli, an individual who must be incredibly difficult to cast, and Hayden Milanes does admirably in an attempt to channel Valli but doesn’t quite hit the emotional notes.

Speaking of notes, it’s unfortunate that the music and lyrics by Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe, respectively, were drowned out in the large Orpheum space. That is particularly problematic for Jersey Boys, which largely serves as a parade of hits, a showcase of the classic harmonies first performed by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.

Jersey Boys‘ book, by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, is thin. Jersey Boys serves as a parade of hits – and also a parade of the band members’ biggest life moments. The book doesn’t really work, especially in moments that try to deal emotional blows, because there is little substance to the relationships. When a major character learns of the death of a close family member, for example, it’s hard to muster up any grief for him—the audience never sees the two characters truly interact.

But who cares, really? For those who grew up on The Four Seasons and/or fondly hum their tunes, which is pretty much everyone, (even if you don’t know it, you are definitely familiar with their music), Jersey Boys will definitely produce some giddy toe tapping.

In addition to their work with www.HowWasTheShow.com, David and Chelsea Berglund review movies on their site Movie Matrimony.

 

 

 

 

 

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