Jersey Boys Brings The Music Of The 60s Back To Life At Mac-Haydn
At last, Mac-Haydn Theatre is presenting the show that their audiences have requested more than any other: “Jersey Boys.” For those not in the know, “Jersey Boys” is the iconic jukebox musical based on the lives of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The story traces their history from the street corners of New Jersey to their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The story is told from the perspective of each of the original Four Seasons: Tommy DeVito, who had the genesis for the group; Nick Massi; Bob Gaudio, the creative genius behind the majority of the music and lyrics the group performed throughout their career; and, of course, Frankie Castetelluccio. Frankie Castetelluccio obviously morphed into Frankie Valli because that would fit on a marquee with greater ease, and Valli with an “I,” not a “Y” because, as his future wife Mary Delgado explains on their first date, all Italian names end in a vowel: Delgado, Castelluccio, and pizza.
Each of the four tells a portion of their story as they recall it: their successes, failures, and the music. Speaking directly to the audience, we get to hear not only the story but also learn the personalities of the four. Since its premiere in 2005, this show has been performed worldwide, from Broadway to community theatres and as a major motion picture. It can be a daunting task to then attempt to present the thirty-plus songs as well as the story in a manner that may be considered new or re-enlivened. Mac-Haydn’s Producing Artistic Director, John Saunders, once again takes the directorial reins to steer this mammoth production.
Saunders does an admirable job not only directing the show but also assembling a strong technical crew as well as a talented cast of Mac-Haydn vets and newbies to help achieve his goals. Choreographer Ashley DeLane Burger does a wonderful job recreating the feeling of the 1960s. With its many moving pieces, Alvia Cross’s set design creates thirty-some scenes in the first act alone. Andrew Gmoser’s lighting and Sean McGinley’s sound design put you in the vibe of the time. Emily Allen’s hair design and wigs and Claire Mezzetta’s costumes round out the rock and roll era and sweep the audience back in the time continuum.
It is The Mac’s Music Director, Eric Shorey, who clearly bears the burden of this production. Shorey knows how to get the most wonderful harmonies out of the foursome as well as create beautiful numbers from the full cast. Shorey has proven to be Mac-Haydn’s strongest creative asset, from leading the band to musically directing the cast. Kudos to trumpeter Connor Holland for his emotionally stirring dueling duet with Valli’s solo “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.”
Nick Massi is played with low-key subtlety by John Hannigan. Of the four men, his role is probably the least volatile until his Act 2 rupture. Gaudio, who never really wanted to be in the spotlight, rather preferring the background writing music, is masterfully handled by Andrew Burton Kelly. Kelly has a wonderful ability to internalize his emotions in his acting and bring it all to the surface in his vocal performance.
Conversely, we are presented with Tommy DeVito, the leader of the group. Hot-headed, controlling, with a number of issues, it is most likely that without his pushing, flawed as he was as a person, the Four Seasons may have never existed. Conor Fallon, who has graced the Mac stage a number of times over the years, most recently as Jesus in their last production of “Godspell,” appeared to be having an off night. He stumbled over some lines and missed some of the choreography. Vocally, he was as satisfying as ever, delivering a strong, powerful performance.
Perhaps, as it should be, the night belonged to Mac newcomer Andrew Maguire as Frankie Valli. Maguire has a voice and range that match the real Valli, note for note. His crystal-clear tenor and icy steel falsetto brought down the house song after song, most notably with the heart-wrenching rendition of “Fallen Angel.” Hopefully, in the seasons ahead, Mac audiences will be treated to more of the versatile talents of Mr. Maguire.
Not to be forgotten are the myriad of outstanding supporting cast members, including the very funny Jacob Atkins as Joe Pesci (before he was actually Joe Pesci the star), Mathew Harper Stevenson as Norm Waxman, Kevin Weldon as Gyp DeCarlo, and Rachel Pantazis as Mary Delgado, the wisecracking, alcoholic wife of Valli.
In an almost cameo appearance, it was wonderful to see Gabe Belyeu return to the stage this summer as Bob Crewe, the producer who launched and guided the careers of The Four Seasons. Belyeu’s over-the-top, flamboyant Crewe is a far cry but equally entertaining from his masterful turn as Don Quixote of seasons past. It should be noted that most of the cast doubles or triples roles throughout the production with ease and finesse.
“Jersey Boys” has settled in for a three-week run at Mac-Haydn. Overall, to borrow a line from their music… Oh, What a Night! For more information or tickets, visit www.machaydntheatre.org or call the box office at 518-392-9292.