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Jersey Boys – John W. Engeman Theater – Theatre Review

If you’re a fan of jukebox musicals, they always seem to hit a little differently when the songs truly tell the story unfolding before your eyes onstage. Jersey Boys, which just opened on March 14 at the John W. Engeman Theatre, is that kind of musical. These four boys from Jersey had no idea the wild ride that awaited them when they got together and became the Four Seasons!

This documentary-style narrative follows the story of Franki Vallie & Four Seasons’—you know, the group that sings December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)—rise to fame. This award-winning musical is a show full of songs (written by Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe) that most everyone knows and loves. Each song develops a deeper layer of meaning when you see what was going behind the scenes when each was written and performed.

Part of the genius of the show is how, at each stage, it’s narrated by a different member of the band. While the saying goes there are two sides to every story, this one has four sides—but whose is the most accurate?

Could it be grifter extraordinaire, Tommy DeVito, played by Justin Wolfe Smith (understudy for Nick Bernardi), who is convinced the entirety of the band’s success was because of him? Or maybe Bob Gaudio, played by Sean McGee, whose lyrics and melodies got the band to multiple number-one chart toppers? Could it be Frankie Valli, the “kid” with the voice of an angel, played by Joey Lavarco, with his unwavering loyalty to his friends and to the old neighborhood? Or perhaps the unassuming bass player Nick Massi, played by Stephen Cerf, who really has the unadulterated facts of everything that unfolded?

Each actor truly showcased their talents in each role, as if they were made for them. Their voices blended perfectly together as they performed the hits that had the crowd cheering and dancing in their seats—like “Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man”. As with all of the Engeman’s shows, the costumes, set, and choreography were perfect and polished. The additional roles and ensemble members did a great job of rounding out the show as it barrelled forward like a high-speed train.

Overall, Jersey Boys is a grooving show that makes you want to sing along and is full of incredible actors that immerse you in this tale of big dreams, unfortunate mob connections, and the rise to stardom.

It has remained popular over the years for good reason—make sure you get your tickets soon! It’s been so well received that the show’s run has now been extended at the John W. Engeman Theater through May 26!

Run time is two and a half hours with one 15 minute intermission.Note: Be advised for younger viewers that this show uses coarse language and has mature themes throughout.

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