JERSEY BOYS – Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice; Music by Bob Guadio; Lyrics by Bob Crewe. Produced by Thingamajig Theatre Company (2313 Eagle Drive, Pagosa Springs) through August 27. Tickets available at 970-731-7469 or email@example.com.
You don’t drive all the way down to Pagosa Springs to see just one show. The second evening in Pagosa entertained with a fine production of one of the best jukebox musicals written to date. Writers Brickman and Elice dug into the history of the group they were celebrating and found the things that were not publicized when they were on top of the charts. The petty theft, the intermittent jail sentences, the mob connections, the gambling problems, the thrill of success and the life on the road. By fitting the music to the era, their story is both authentic and compelling.
Each of the Four Season performers narrated a section of their biography. Tommy DeVito (Evan Hoefer) starts the story in the Spring of their formation. How he kept working to find the perfect combination of voices and name for the group to lead to their success. But it also illustrates his recklessness, arrogance, and controlling attitude. The Summer is given to Bob Gaudio (Trevor Brown), the groups composer of such lasting songs as “Sherry,” “You’re Too Good to Be True,” and the one no one believed would succeed “My Eyes Adored You.” This section covers the peak of their success which inevitably also led to the personal downfalls of divorce and debt.
The Fall section belongs to Nick Massi (Justin Autz) who covers their break-up with Tommy and the aftermath of taking on DeVito’s gambling debts. Nick also gives his own version of what it was like being on the road and of backstage life. The final Winter section is covered by Frankie Valli himself (Ze’ev Barmor) as he weathers on after the others have stopped performing, leaving only Bob as his partner composer. But even then, Frankie’s personal life is in shambles. The group reunites to sing at their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The tight harmonies of these singers and the choreography that reflects their performance style (created by Dani Loewen) form a concert-like evening for the audience, interspersed with the fascinating aspects of their real life, warts and all. No holds barred. If it didn’t put you off traveling with a group on the road, you’re either totally starstruck or not paying attention. However, it’s all forgiven because of the music.
The supporting cast did yeoman’s work playing multiple characters in the story. Caden Brauch jumped in and out of roles like an Olympic athlete, playing Joe Pesci who as a teenager helped the band form up, as well as about four other characters while singing and dancing in the ensemble as well. Nazmokeem Harvey, a young man, did a formidable job as Gyp DeCarlo, an elderly Mafia kingpin, as well as other roles as needed. The women – Allie Tamburello, Ashley Woodson, and Samantha Luck – became wives, lovers, backup singers and the Three Angels, a girl group from the era. All and all, a synchronized and talented group of performers – “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.”
The simplicity of the set allowed the action to move smoothly with no breaks to interrupt the flow of the music. Director Dennis Elkins knows that the music is going to be what is remembered about this show and allows the production to get out of the way.
Congratulations to the winning team at Thingamajig Theatre Company for another successful summer season. Remember – this is a group that does theatre all year round. So, if you’re ever in the area, check them out.
A WOW factor of 8.5!!