Though the band name “The Four Seasons” or its star — Frankie Valli — may not immediately resonate with millennial viewers, their classic songs of heartbreak and unrequited dreams have followed us when we least expect it. Known for Valli’s wailing, raspy falsetto and Bob Gaudio’s songwriting acumen, The Four Seasons — also including Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi — topped the charts throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s with infectious harmonies and lush, danceable arrangements. “Jersey Boys,” running from July 15 to 20 at Broadway San Jose, presents the stories behind The Four Season’s hits such as “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Rag Doll” and “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night).”
A long-running jukebox musical and dramatization of the careers of the American rock ‘n’ roll group, “Jersey Boys”has thrilled audiences around the world since 2005. The show has won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical in 2006, along with the 2009 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical. A film adaptation of the show, directed by Clint Eastwood, was also recently released, starring John Lloyd Young, who plays Frankie Valli in the Broadway production of “Jersey Boys,” as the lead.
“Jersey Boys” is different from other musicals with unoriginal scores because the music doesn’t just complement the story; it is the story. Quinn VanAntwerp, who has played the role of Bob Gaudio in multiple iterations of the show, described the unique nature of “Jersey Boys” in an interview with The Daily Californian.
“It’s a play about these four guys coming from mobster New Jersey — playing in nightclubs, breaking and entering — and then making it big,” VanAntwerp said. “But, you never see them out of context. I never start singing while I’m talking, as in an extension of dialogue. It’s always in a concert setting, or we’re playing a club. So, it’s a play with a rock concert spliced in between it.”
Symbolically sectioned into the four seasons of the group’s professional career, the show depicts the inner struggles and successes of four teens from New Jersey who almost impossibly become “the most popular rock band before the Beatles,” as stated by the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.
VanAntwerp praised director Des McAnuff for the show’s energy and charm. “About half way through the first act you kind of start to believe that we are The Four Seasons,” VanAntwerp explained with pride. “We leave the show with people thinking that they know us, that they know who The Four Seasons are.” This intimacy drives the hype surrounding the show.
Although “Jersey Boys” may seem like a regional tale from an era that modernity shares little in common with, the show presents the relatability of tragedy and triumph, continually impressing many audience members who aren’t avid theater-goers.
“It’s so weird — as a guy who went into musical theater — to be part of a show where big, burly football fans are standing and screaming like their team just won the Super Bowl,” VanAntwerp said.
The Broadway San Jose run of “Jersey Boys” is one of the last stops on the show’s North American tour before a respite from August to October. VanAntwerp gushed about the cast’s dedication and ability, and mourned the tour’s nearing end: “I wouldn’t invite my friends and family from all over the country to see me in a production that wasn’t really up to par — this is a really exciting group coming out to San Jose.”
“Jersey Boys” is playing at Broadway San Jose from July 15-20.