Written by Eitan
Having never before been to a Broadway show, coupled with being dragged to my first one immediately after an excruciatingly difficult summer semester final exam, did not give me the sense of excitement so many people feel about a Broadway show. Let alone their first one. I wanted to relax; I was exhausted and ready to just veg. Stepping into the August Wilson Theater on 52nd street and Broadway felt like entering my high school auditorium before one of the school plays. I was thinking a musical, is a musical, is a musical. How much difference could there be?
We sit in our partial view seats, content because after all, 27 dollars to see Jersey Boys is a steal right? Not like I could have spent the money on windsurfing or anything. I have no idea what to expect in this show but all I know is that it has to do with the guys who sang “Sherry.” Next thing I know some guy wearing b-boy clothing appears on the upper portion of the stage and starts spewing some French version of a song I know I’ve heard before. As weird as this first performance was, I could not help but tap my foot to the beat.
So far I’m thinking: “I could sit through this, it’s kind of fun!” And then they appeared. Three men clad in suave suits performing a quintessential Fifties ballad. I don’t know where they came from, but as they shooby doo’d to the front of the stage towards the lamp post that appeared, I was mesmerized. I was sold. The three characters were Tommy DeVito played by my personal favorite Richard H. Blake, Nick Massi played by Matt Bogart, and Nick DeVito played by Miles Aubrey. Blake’s performance blew me away from the beginning. His accent, his voice, his “bad assery” and his movements, were so natural I couldn’t help but feel he was born for the part. Even when the show finished and I got WAY more than my money’s worth, I found myself right back at the theatre box office at the next chance I got, lookin’ for Blake’s Tommy, my hand to God! Another Hallmark performance was by Matt Bogart: This was Nick Massi on the stage before me, I could feel it, and if it wasn’t… it was. I tell ya, he coulda started his own group.
Another standout who caught my attention from the beginning for me is Mark Lotito who plays multiple characters, including band members and the mob boss Gyp DeCarlo, and has been with the show from the start. The coolness of his delivery was very natural and at times his voice reminded me of Frank Sinatra, another famous Italian. When I met Mark Lotito by the stage door, he humbly downplayed his involvement with the show saying “yeah, I played the show a few times.”
This show was not just the story about three guys under a street lamp who became a music sensation. It was, as Bob Gaudio says, an “objective correlative” that describes the trials and tribulations a band goes through on its way to fame. Even when Frankie Valli, played by Joseph Leo Bwarie, became a solo act, the audience still felt that it was the story of a group called the Four Seasons. The evolution of Frankie Valli’s character throughout the play was also fantastically portrayed. He starts out as a kid on the streets of Newark and evolves into a man that has the voice of an angel, who deals with the not so ordinary challenges of a backwater Jersey family man who also happens to be an international superstar. I don’t know much about Broadway, but this was a hit for me. I have come back to the show three times and you can bet I will be coming again. I still get excited when Bob Gaudio – played by Quinn VanAntwerp builds up his monologue before introducing each of the smash hit songs we all know and love.