Meet the "Jersey Boys" and fall in love with each of them

By Tatiana Craine

For the past three days, one word has been forever recurrent in my mind: Sherry.Silly girl, you say. But don’t try to kid yourself. You wouldn’t be able to shield yourself against the angelic, high-toned voices always echoing in your head. You aren’t stronger than this tour-de-force. You got nothin’ on the boys from Jersey. Nada.

I won’t kid myself, either. You probably don’t know a whole lot about the Four Seasons. I want to introduce you to the four guys I met the other night. There’s Frankie- he’s got the voice of an angel and the stars in his eyes. There’s Tommy- he’s the bad boy. That’s all you need know. There’s Bobby- he’s the genius of the group, a real wiz with words. And there’s Nick- he’s the base (and bass) of the group; the rock that tries to keep them all grounded. They’re the Four Seasons, and they let me in on a few of their secrets.

I’m sure you’ve heard the name Frankie Valli mentioned by a grandma, a dad, a family friend, or maybe you’ve even danced to one of his tunes at a wedding. But I guarantee you – the Four Seasons are more cemented in our youthful minds than we may know. Can you remember a cocky, love-struck Heath Ledger in Ten Things I Hate about You ? He sung that unforgettable ballad to Julia Stiles’ character while the marching band played in the background. The song? Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) knew his Frankie Valli hits all right.

I walked into “Jersey Boys” not knowing quite what to expect. I assumed it might be a musical with an outlandish plot stung together by hits from a foursome I didn’t know anything about. My thoughts at the time? Two words: “Mamma Mia.” I would not have been amused. Yet, surprisingly and wonderfully, that was not the case.

“Jersey Boys” is not about the songs the Four Seasons sang, it’s about their experience. However, the Four Seasons make their experiences yours, too. You live with them, love with them, lose your virginity with them, make hits with them, suffer with them, and before you know it – you feel like one of them.

The rebel of the gang, Tommy, leads you on the Four Seasons’ journey from the beginning when Frankie was just another 16 year old kid from New Jersey hanging outside of clubs, hoping to sing along. Immediately, you’re whisked off into their world as the sets change lightning-fast with tables on moving tracks and actors deftly placing chairs. Despite the immense amount of set-changing, it remains unobtrusive and almost natural as audiences go from clubs to streets to homes. It’s easy to get caught in the Jersey whirlwind as Tommy gives you his insider’s scoop on the gang. He talks to you, lets you know what’s up and who’s who. He tells you about the group’s identity crisis – how they changed names weekly and became the “Romans,” the “Lovers,” and “The Wonder Who?”. He even lets you in on a little secret: Joe Pesci, yeah that Joe Pesci – the actor – introduced Bobby to the rest of the Four Seasons. You tag along with the gang as they go from four boys in Jersey making deals with the local gangster boss to four musicians pleading for a record deal. In the end, there’s hardly any suspense in wondering whether or not a label will accept them – but you’re nearly falling off the edge of your seat with nerves as they get signed.

From there, each of the Four Seasons take turns narrating the story from their point of view, hooking you in on their side of things. You discover that even after making it big, Tommy still has a penchant for gambling and Frankie is having problems at home. You learn that when you’re a musician, you have your home family and your road family. One always takes precedence over the other and that’s when things turn to muck, even when you’re number one on the charts.

Not one of the Jersey Boys stood out more than their fellow band-mates. Each actor turned in a stellar performance as they became Frankie, Tommy, Bobby, and Nick. Christopher Kale Jones effortlessly slips into his role as wistful, yet tortured Italian-American Frankie Valli. He grows from a 16 year old to a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer with a voice that rings clear as crystal. Seasoned Broadway veteran Erik Bates of “Miss Saigon” and “West Side Story” fame plays Frankie’s mentor and band-mate Tommy DeVito. He made this Minnesotan suburbanite girl understand the rules and draws of the Jersey “neighborhood” – the underground world run by gangsters and littered with seedy money. That’s a feat. Baby-faced Andrew Rannells becomes Bob Gaudio, the outsider to the “neighborhood” and the baby of the group who wrote the song “Who Wears Short Shorts” by the time he was 15. He matures into the Four Season’s eloquent lyricist and singer while making the women in the audience swoon. And then there’s Steve Gouveia who really has been the rock of the group – on and off-stage. He’s been with the cast since the show’s 2004 premiere, and has a deeply rich bass tone that thrums gently through the rest of the band’s voices.

However, without the rest of the cast’s shining talent “Jersey Boys” would not have been the same. The cast’s three sole women gave marathon performances, changing roles from mothers to girlfriends to club-goers to prostitutes with such skill that each of their roles were distinguishable from the next – a difficult task for actors to achieve, let alone in a wig and heels. The other men in the ensemble also gave spectacular performances, rounding out the music with a healthy helping of tenors and basses.

It’s impossible to specify a stand-out song in “Jersey Boys” because the numbers were and still are hits in their own right. The audience gobbled up each performance like they were little bonbons – sweet and gone too soon. However, after Bobby details the troubles he went through to get “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” onto the radio airwaves, the audience couldn’t help but give a resounding round of applause. And the audience’s roars of approval after hearing the Four Season’s hit “Sherry” were deafening. Sitting in the audience for a “Jersey Boys” performance is an experience in and of itself. People of all types from middle-aged women to teenaged boys tapped their feet in time with the catchy Four Seasons beats. Cat calls were abundant at the end of each song, and I felt like I was at a concert. But this concert had a story, and that’s better than any concert I’ve ever been to.

Needless to say, the “Jersey Boys” cast received a standing ovation from the entire theater – the audience was all too eager to get to their feet in appreciation for the talent displayed by this production. From the set design to the costumes to the singing and acting – the audience (and I) loved the “Jersey Boys.” I even sat near a New Yorker who couldn’t help but put aside her bias against Jersey for the night so she could hoot and holler like a teenager seeing her idols.

Now that you know a little bit about them, go on – introduce yourself to these four guys. Get a little more acquainted with the Four Seasons and try not to fall in love with them. It’s impossible not to. The magic “Jersey Boys” has will turn even the most skeptical theater-goer into a Four Seasons fanatic. I’ll openly admit it – if you walk by my room on any given night, you might just hear the boys from Jersey keeping me company.