Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

February 9, 2009

Jersey Boys

The Bushnell, Hartford CT
Through February 22, 2009
By Sharon Smith

“Oh, What a Night” at the Bushnell, indeed! That song title is also the best way to describe an enjoyable evening watching a performance of "Jersey Boys," the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The quartet may sing “Big Girls Don’t Cry” but if you miss this must-see show, you just might!

"Jersey Boys" recounts the story of how four singers under a street lamp, from the wrong side of the tracks, made it in the big time. Who would have thought that the performers of such wonderful songs as “Sherry”, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “Walk Like a Man” would have personal histories that include theft, jail time and mobsters?

The incredibly talented Four Seasons are played by Matt Bailey (Tommy DeVito), Joseph Leo Bwarie (Frankie Valli), Josh Franklin (Bob Gaudio) and Steve Gouveia (Nick Massi). Their vocal and physical similarities to their real-life counterparts are uncanny. The actors portray the characters so well that it is difficult to believe they are not the real Four Seasons -- to cry when Frankie cries and feel betrayed when Tommy’s indiscretions tear the band apart.

Jersey Boys moves along quickly and uses effortless transitions to instantly shift focus from a small smoky nightclub to the set of American Bandstand. Even the costumes help trace the band's trajectory and tie it to their name by using vibrant colors for the Spring and Summer of the Four Seasons career and finishing with more muted colors as the (literal) Fall of the band began. As befits the rough and tumble New Jersey upbringing of the boys, their language is also pretty colorful.

A drawback to the "Jersey Boys" is wanting to “Stay” just a little bit longer enjoying the trip back in time. With at least 40 singles on the best- selling charts, the Playbill included a song list of “The Ones That Got Away” (songs that couldn’t be squeezed into the show). Any hope that the curtain call would feature one or more of these songs remained unfulfilled.

Don’t miss this “Fallen Angel” of a show!