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Vicki’s View: Jersey Boys croons a musical history lesson

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jersey-boys.jpgBy Vicki Paris Goodman
Arts & Entertainment Editor

Although I really liked Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, they weren’t among my favorite groups way back when. Not even close.
But when the curtain opened on Jersey Boys, the musical memoir of the innovative band’s formation and rise to popularity, I never would have guessed I’d be in for one of the most wondrous theatrical treats of my life.
First of all, Jersey Boys is no musical revue. The retrospective of Four Seasons songs, some early and obscure, with others as familiar as your best friend, certainly has its “hour in the sun.” No disappointment there.
But this show tells a story, a story so mesmerizing that intermission is little more than an annoying interruption of a really good dream.
The primary talents of The Four Seasons were Frankie Valli, with his unusually wide vocal range, and Bob Gaudio, who wrote most of the group’s hit songs and intuitively knew how to showcase Valli’s distinctive voice. The ultimately troublesome Tommy DeVito deserves credit for forming the group, as Valli and Gaudio were mere teenagers when DeVito discovered them. Final member Nick Massi, though quite talented, was arguably the most emotionally stable of the foursome and, as such, garnered less attention than he probably deserved.
Christopher Kale Jones (Valli), Erich Bergen (Gaudio), Deven May (DeVito) and Steve Gouveia (Massi) are the products of perfect casting that are a large part of what makes this show so special. As singers, they soar. As actors, they inspire.
As the show progresses, all the while depicting its flawlessly paced emotional highs and lows, I was struck by the fact that nothing about Jersey Boys is over-emphasized or underdone.
Even the language, in which the f-word occurs far more often than any other, didn’t bother me for once. Why? Because there was nothing gratuitous about it. These guys were from “Joisey” and that’s the way they talked. End of story.
Speaking of attention to detail, while happily humming along to one of the famous songs (I forget which one), I suddenly recalled that a brass riff was coming up in a couple of bars. Just as disappointment began to set in as I wondered what would substitute for all those horns, nothing short of six guys stepped out onto the high scaffolding above the stage blowing their trumpets, trombones and saxophones. Wow.
Jersey Boys probably spans a good 15 to 20 years of the lives of these 1960s icons. A marriage fails. A child dies. DeVito lands them all in jail overnight while secretly getting them hopelessly in debt. Trouble brews and a couple of the guys split and must be replaced. Sex, drugs and booze are frequent companions.
Des McAnuff is the genius who directs Jersey Boys, with book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. Music is by none other than Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe. Brilliant choreography is the work of Sergio Trujillo.
Jersey Boys continues at the Orange County Performing Arts Center’s Segerstrom Hall through Dec. 1. Tickets are $28.25 to $83.25. Performances are Mondays thru Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
For reservations and additional information, call (714) 556-2787 or go online to

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Vicki’s View: Jersey Boys croons a musical history lesson