By Micha Green
It might not be a holiday show, but between the current political divide, crowded streets and markets, and all the mixed emotions associated with ushering out an old year and beginning a new decade, Jersey Boys at the National Theatre is the perfect form of entertainment to beat the seasons’ blues and celebrate in its magic.
With a limited run, Jersey Boys is a timeless show that not only hits high and low notes when it comes to the beloved music, but also shows the journey of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, on whom the storyline is based. As the Four Seasons relay their career trajectory, audiences are taken on an emotional journey that captures their ears and eyes, invests their hearts and soothes even the most disheartened soul.
Jersey Boys is at the National Theatre for a limited holiday run until Jan. 5. (Courtesy Photo)
Though the show, directed by Des McAnuff, is at the National Theatre, in the nation’s capital, in December 2019 (ends Jan 5.), the distinguishable dialect, costumes (Jess Goldstein), choreography (Sergio Tujillo), and of course, the music (Lyricist: Bob Crewe, Composer: Bob Gaudio), transport audiences immediately to the late 1950s and early 60’s in Jersey, all the way up to their continued success today.
It’s an honest, feel good tale to which anyone can relate. The themes include fighting to achieve dreams despite obstacles, holding onto family, releasing toxic relationships despite love and perceived loyalty and making hard decisions in hopes for a better life. The anecdotes and lessons learned from Jersey Boys are fitting for the holiday season; yet the show is one that echoes year round, and will be a perfect way to say goodbye to 2019 and welcome the new decade.
Jersey Boys is a great musical for fans of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, but is quite an enjoyable piece for novices to the group and their story.
Each actor and singer brings honest truth to the characters and the bold and beautiful singing and well-executed choreography allow for audiences to be engaged from the beginning of the play to the very end.
Before going into the leads of the show, the featured chorus must get its worthy and just due. Each member of the featured chorus played several characters and all were distinguishable and believable.
One noteworthy performance includes that of Ashley Bruce, who played many roles including Mary Delgado, Frankie Valli’s wife.
In addition, the comedic timing of Sean McGee, who played Bob Crewe among other roles, made for a quite enjoyable stage presence and left audiences wanting more.
The Four Season’s performances were also heartfelt, entertaining and allowed for audiences to understand the nuances of the true family the group built over the decades.
Corey Greenan as Tommy Devito is sleazy, funny and loveable all at once. Audiences grow to love Greenan’s Devito, despite his annoying, know-it-all nature. His quips are to be expected, his fast chat is something that keeps the play going, and in many ways, the group.
Michael Milton, as Nick Massi, is the guy, “You gotta love.” He’s talented, handsome and, although he doesn’t seem very smart or have much to say, he has a good heart. Milton’s onstage presence is a major contribution to the group and although he’s quiet the first half of the show, he’s listening intently and clearly processing every action and thought. He becomes more vocal the second half of the production, and when he is no longer on stage his cherished presence and funny one-liners are greatly missed.
Eric Chambliss as Bob Gaudio is innocently loveable, balanced by a healthy and impressive strength. The final addition to the group, Gaudio’s business mindset and strong songwriting skills helped the actual Four Seasons, and once Chambliss enters into the action, the on-stage chemistry livens up and adds a nice equilibrium to the play as a whole.
Jon Hacker as Frankie Valli is a standout. Audiences empathize with Hacker’s sincere portrayal of Valli, a young man with talent and a dreamer, who grows from follower to leader. Hacker’s vocal range is amazing, and filled the theatre with the beloved falsettos of Valli, and his acting allowed for audiences to invest in the major emotions the lead singer experiences, despite his earnest attempts for good.
The set (Klara Zieglerova), although simple, was incredibly effective and in perfect collaboration with useful and mood-setting lighting design (Howell Brinkley) and aesthetically pleasing projections (Michael Clark). I looked forward to the projections, which helped the show move along beautifully and boldly assisted with the storytelling, becoming a character in itself.
Audiences are left on their feet clapping and singing along with the cast at the end of Jersey Boys at the National Theatre.
In addition, as it’s the season of giving, this reporter attended a performance with the cast offering a bonus holiday song.
If interested in getting out of D.C. for the holidays, one way is to go to the National Theatre for Jersey Boys where audiences are theatrically transported to the Northeastern state and goes back in time. Tickets can be purchased online at TheNationalDC.com, by calling 1-800-514-3849 or in person at the National Theatre Box Office, which is open Monday-Friday from 12 p.m.-6 p.m. as well as two hours prior to every performance.