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'Jersey Boys' a lively show with tough roots

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By Gina Schultz

The Broadway hit “Jersey Boys” brought together people of all ages to enjoy the music and the life story of Frankie Valli and the early 1960s group, The Four Seasons.
The seemingly sugar-coated boys from New Jersey were far from innocent. The four friends started singing under street lamps before becoming a sensation under the direction of manager Bob Crewe, played flamboyantly by Barry Anderson. Valli was only a young teen at the time and the group signed no contract. Only a mere handshake sealed the deal for their future.
Their days in the spotlight were riddled with tough times, such as a drinking problem from Nick Massi, played by the stoic Brandon Andrus, who seemed a bit stiff at first, but was capturing the real Massi’s candor. Another dilemma the group had to overcome was the gambling problems and overall hijinks of Tommy DeVito. Played by Colby Foytik, he captured the essence of what a troubled soul DeVito really was, going so far as bankrupting the group with an enormous debt and getting them all a little too close to the New Jersey mob syndicate.
Bob Gaudio was the brains behind the song writing and was played with vigor by Jason Kappus. The actor bore a strong resemblance to the real Bob Gaudio.
The real highlight of the show was Brad Weinstock’s portayal of Valli. The tough guy with small stature and amazing voice was adequately shown when Weinstock could actually hit the high, falsetto tones that made Valli famous.
The stage was set up with a projection of art by comic strip illustrator Michael Clark. The bold colors and images were a suiting back drop to the action on stage.
Cameras captured the group as they performed their famous acts on the Ed Sullivan and American Bandstand with the clips of the real introduction from Sullivan and audiences enjoying the actual shows back in the days of black and white television.
The coordination of the dancing and dialogue was enjoyable and kept the audience’s attention throughout. The dancing was flawless and smooth. The popular songs of that day made the baby boomers in the audience sing along with delight.
The song, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” was a spectacular number filled with a full brass section, something the real Valli always dreamed of and achieved.
A tear jerking moment came when Weinstock sings “Fallen Angel,” when his character, Valli finds out his 22-year-old daughter, Francine had died of a drug overdose. A fitting definition of the tough street persona the characters from New Jersey represented.
The tough talking guys with Jersey accents and the accurate rendition of the songs made for a great and lively show.
“Jersey Boys” is at Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque until Sunday. Prices begin at $27.50 and tickets are available at UNM Ticket Offices or by calling
877-664-8661 or visiting
popejoypresents.com.