By Ryan Wallace
Recently reinvisioned as a hit Hollywood film, directed by Clint Eastwood, the original biographical play of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons has taken Orange County by storm in its three-week stint at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, in Costa Mesa, CA. The Orange County engagement of the four-time Tony Award winning musical brings the early 60’s back to life, as Frankie Valli (played by Hayden Milanes) and the Four Seasons command each and every of the 3,000 seats in the beautiful Segerstrom Hall.
The musical “Jersey Boys” tells the story of singer Tommy DeVito, his protege the young Frankie Valli and their struggles to make it out of New Jersey and into the limelight of pop music. Beginning their collective careers in the early 1960’s, the structure of the musical ensemble may change form and many names, but to its core the play follows what we would one day know as The Four Seasons—Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and Bob Gaudio. Known for their long-lived musical careers and impact on the industry of pop music, the Four Seasons’ story is not one with drama or theatrical personalities, which lends itself perfectly to the stage.
Bringing a nostalgic quality to the children of the Sixties and Millennials alike, the music of the play hits a high note as memories flood back of the vast discography of Frankie Valli and his Four Seasons. The familiar few like “Sherry” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” find their way into the elaborately structured musical, with historical context to boot, but it’s the continuous grab-bag of musical tunes you already know that makes this musical an interesting experience. With more than fifty years of music writing and collaborating, the group led by Frankie Valli’s unique voice, has created literally hundreds of chart-topping songs you’ll have in your repertoire—even if you didn’t know they came from The Four Seasons.
The bibliographic story may not be rated G, with complex themes and language not suited for children, but it does lend itself to musical theatre quite well. Dramatic, musically driven and entirely theatrical, the play brings you a behind-the-scenes look of a rising star and the trials-and-tribulations of a group trying to escape the circumstances they were born into. And although the innuendoes and cursing could be construed as inappropriate for some, in the context of the 1960’s the language becomes almost giggle-worthy, as the characters and all of their idioms are brought to life.
As is a staple for the Segerstrom’s performances, the sets are astounding and seamlessly transition throughout the fast-pace story. Narrated by four different individuals, and spanning the course of fifty years, the play embodies the passing of time and the visual context clues aid in the process. So whether it’s a French hip-hop rendition of the early 2000’s or a dingy club performance in the 1960’s, you’ll be able to place the characters and yourself onto the sets and into the memories.
This is a show you won’t want to miss! Tomorrow’s final closing-curtain performances will take place at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts for two more shows: a matinee at 1pm and a closer at 6:30pm. Reserve your tickets online or in-person at the box office for an unbelievable afternoon of music, memories and star-studded performances.
Photos Courtesy of Jeremy Daniel