Jersey Boys


EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday April 14, 2009

Steve Gouveia, Joseph Leo Bwarie, Andrew Rannells and Jeremy Kushnier in "Jersey Boys."
Steve Gouveia, Joseph Leo Bwarie, Andrew Rannells and Jeremy Kushnier in "Jersey Boys."  

Boasting incredible box office sales, a spectacular production of the 2006 Tony Award -Winning Best Musical, Jersey Boys, has gleefully arrived at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale for a month's long stay through May 3, 2009.

This captivating jukebox musical tells the story of the rise to fame of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons in the very competitive music industry world of the 1960's.

Despite incredible odds and obstacles along the way, four blue-collar boys from Belleville, New Jersey (Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi, Frankie Valli, and Bob Gaudio) became one of the biggest American pop sensations of all time. Together, these four young men created a unique sound, and sold 175 million records worldwide all before turning thirty.

Several other fortuitous factors contributed to the foursome's success. A young Joe Pesci, long before his own Hollywood fame, introduced songwriter Bob Gaudio to the group. Bob Crewe, a well-versed music industry producer, also took note of the boys after other doors in the business had been shut in their faces.

Recognizable to all, the niche that would make the group stand apart from all others was the angelic falsetto voice of Frankie Valli. Bob Gaudio heard merely eight bars of a song from Valli's lips before he just knew he had to write songs for the young tenor. Crewe likewise imagined amazing potential. Together, Gaudio and Crewe successfully wrote many of the groups' top selling hits.

On stage, an amazingly diverse cast brings the rags-to-riches story to life under the artful direction of Des McAnuff, with a book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, and stylistically perfect choreography by Sergio Trujillo.

Due to the amount of stage time and the vocal challenge of singing in Valli's register, the role of Frankie is split between two actors, with Joseph Leo Bwarie handling the lion's share of the performances. Mr. Bwarie was in top form the night of this review. Whether acting, singing, or dancing, Bwarie shined as an amazing and powerful force on the stage.

Likewise, Matt Bailey leant an inspiring gentleness to Tommy DeVito's rough exterior as his character narrated most of the evening's story to the audience. Josh Franklin soared as song writer Bob Gaudio, especially during Act One's "Cry for Me". And from the original Broadway cast, Steve Gouveia delivered Nick Massi's comic take on life with an ease of showmanship.

Aside from The Four Seasons, a small company of versatile actors aid in portraying the rest of the story's characters. Most notably, Jonathan Hadley excels as Bob Crewe. Joseph Siravo effectively handles an array of character men. Renee Marino is a fun Mary Delgado, and Courter Simmons is an amusingly accurate Joe Pesci.

Overall, "Jersey Boys" is an energetic production with a nostalgic look at a time in music history where the dreams of four young men really did come true. The result is electrifying.

Jersey Boys continues through May 3, 2009 @ the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW 5th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. For schedule and more information visit the Broadway Across America website.