Working Their Way Back to You
Entertainment’s Best Duo!
The POPULAR Broadway columnist Harry Haun is teaming up with theater historian and teacher Charles Nelson to spearhead DFA’s coverage of Hollywood, The Great White Way and all aspects of entertainment and will now appear regularly on Wachs Media Radio Network and Digital Family Advisor.
Working Their Way Back to You
By Harry Haun and Charles Nelson
Look who’s working their way back to you, babe!
That’s right: Jersey Boys!
Yes, that smash musical biography of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons—the 12thlongest-running show in Broadway history—is strutting back to town in November, settling in a more intimate, less expensive Off-Broadway venue at New World Stages after an absence of what seems like years but actually is only 11 long months.
The temptation is great to write this show off as a jukebox musical since it’s almost constantly throbbing with the soundtrack of a generation—“My Eyes Adored You,” “Earth Angel,” “Bye Bye Baby,” “Rag Doll,” “Fallen Angel,” all those 24-karat oldies—but there is plenty of hard-nosed, tough-minded drama packed between the songs, courtesy of Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s unflinchingly honest musical book.
These two have divided the boys’ roller-coaster ride toward rock ‘n’ roll fame and glory into four parts, giving each of The Seasons his particular say about their slips and ascents along the narrow curves of a chart-climbing career. The blunt, often bruising candor with which the story is told only enhances its inherent drama.
Frankie Valli has confessed he’s always found the show difficult to watch. “There were some very emotional moments that are pretty difficult,” he has said, but he’s glad he insisted his Boswells stick to the truth and not go the sugar-coating route.
“When I decided to do this,” Valli remarked, “my feeling was always that this show might give kids who think they don’t have a chance some kind of inspiration. Considering where I came from and the way I was brought up, not having very much in life, they could see it doesn’t matter what your background is. If you want something bad enough and you’re willing to work for it, you can accomplish what you want.”
Audiences were quick to connect with this underdog-makes-good quality and kept the show charging away on all cylinders for over 11 years (or 4,642 performances).
As for opening night, the celebration for these guys and their music was off the tracks and off the charts. A Broadway record for show-stopping standing ovations must have been set that night. THESE started even before the show started when the surviving three of The Four Seasons—Valli, Bob Gaudio and Tommy DeVito—arrived, and they continued in performance through the whole show with juggernauts like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.”
Like They Say: Oh, what a night!
Does that set your motor running? We wish you could pull out your credit card right now, but the PR people on the show are teasing us. All we know is Jersey Boys returns in November at New World Stages (340 West 50th Street). Casting and dates will be announced very soon—maybe in a few weeks…which is the week The New York Times prints its huge multi-section on the Fall Season.