One evening during my exile to Comcastic Island of the Damned, a colleague asked me if I would be interested in schlepping into the City (which is how we North Jersey folks refer to New York City) with him to see Jersey Boys. It seems that when he purchased the tickets months ago he miscalculated the date his family would be out of town visiting his in-laws, and he (a genuine Jersey Boy) thought that I, also a genuine Jersey Boy, and one who has banged around the music business, would appreciate the story of the genesis and ultimate success of the Four Seasons.
Truth is, I was never a big Four Seasons fan. Except for Rag Doll, which I always thought to be a great tune, I found much of their music at best boring and, at worst, screechy and annoying. Several months ago, some of the Usual Suspects (several of whom are huge Four Seasons fans – particularly the Original Bill) had seen the show, and, to a person, they reported that the show was absolutely fabulous. They insisted that I would love it.
I, therefore accepted the offer of the ticket, and it turns out that the Usual Suspects were absolutely right about the show being absolutely fabulous. I absolutely loved it.
The music was beyond wonderfully performed by the four guys who play the Four Seasons (particularly the actor who plays Frankie Valli). Indeed, I found myself wondering whether the real Four Seasons would have performed it as well live as did these guys.
The story of the four Jersey street guys who became internationally famous was engaging and chock full of “Jersey stuff”. I “got” it, as did the numerous big-haired folks in the audience who had come to the City from the Jersey side of the Hudson River. We loved the references to “eating at the Belmont” (a famous, but very plain Italian restaurant on Bloomfield Avenue that is best known for Chicken Savoy and a Sopranos-like clientele) and the references to the “Four Seasons Bowling Alley”, which was the inspiration for the group’s final choice of a name, and which was about three miles from where I live.
Perhaps, more importantly, the actors had “Jersey” down pat. In one of my favorite scenes, Frankie Valli is explaining to a Jersey girl that he changed his name from Frankie Castelluccio to Frankie “Vally”. It went something like this:
Frankie: My name is no longer Frankie Castelluccio; it’s Frankie Vally.
Girl: How do ya spell it?
Girl: It can’t be V-a-l-l-y. It’s gotta be V-a-l-l-i. It’s gotta end in “i” not “y.”
Frankie: Why can’t it end in “y”?
Girl: ‘Cause “y” is a BULLSHIT LETTER!
Pure Jersey snark, that.
Although I believe the Jersey peeps in the audience particularly appreciated the show, I overheard many out-of-towners (several of whom were clearly from way, way below the Mason-Dixon Line) raving about the performance. They, like the locals in the audience, wildly applauded each number and ended up giving the entire cast a well-deserved Standing O.
The bottom line is, if you’re from Jersey take the trip across the river to see this one. You will not be disappointed. If you are not from around here, but you plan to be in New York, call ahead and make reservations to see Jersey Boys. I guarantee you two and half hours of first-class entertainment.
Voice Inside my Head: “Yo, Jimbo. What is this crap? You see a show about the Four Seasons and all of sudden their music is no longer screechy and annoying? And now they’re the best freakin’ thing since pepperoni pizza?”
Jimbo: “Aaaay, I’m jus’ sayin’”