Tuesday, June 25, 2024

If You Ask Me: “Jersey Boys”

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MTC Offers a Top Notch “Jersey Boys”

By Tom Holehan
Connecticut Critics Circle

The Music Theatre of Connecticut is currently offering one of their very best productions with “Jersey Boys,” the Tony award winning musical currently on the boards at the Norwalk theatre. Apparently, this beloved jukebox musical, showcasing the songs of 1960s group The Four Seasons, is in high demand by small regional theatres, having just played last month to great success at the Ivoryton Playhouse. The Tony winning musical has a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice with music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe.

Told alternately by each of the original Four Seasons singers, the quartet assembled at MTC (half who are veterans of other “Jersey Boys” productions) simply could not be better. Headed by Michael Fasano’s terrific Frankie Valli, he is ably supported by the charismatic Nathan Cockroft as Tommy DeVito, Stephen Petrovich as Nick Massie and Sean McGee as Bob Gaudio. As the story unfolds it is tough guy Tommy who discovers Frankie and, after several false starts, the Four Seasons was born. Tommy’s serious gambling problem and debt to mobsters and Nick’s alcoholism are dealt with as seriously as a musical can and it helps in grounding the show with a deeper reality.

As strong and involving as Brickman and Elice’s book is, however, it’s the great music that people are waiting for and, at MTC, it is delivered in spades. The song lineup includes such classics as “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll,” “Walk Like a Man,” “My Eyes Adored You” and many more. All of it sounds fairly amazing by the quartet under musical director Tony Bellomy and a knock-out supporting crew of singers. Director Kevin Connors paces the musical without any wasted moment. The numerous scene changes are achieved effortlessly as they come and go in a flash. Connors’ company is working very hard doubling roles while toting furniture on and off stage.

Katie Goffman’s choreography is electric here and Daine Vanderkroef’s costuming, covering the 1950s to the early 2000s, provides the singers’ iconic series of jackets and so much more. Sean Sanford’s scenic design is simple but works splendidly for a dozen or more scenes and the thrust stage brings those dynamic performances only feet from the audience. In this regard, MTC has an advantage over the Ivoryton production with its intimate space. In all respects, this is a first-rate production.

Jersey Boys” continues at the Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Ave, Norwalk, through October 1st. For further information, call: (203) 454-3883 or visit: www.musictheatreofct.org.

Tom Holehan is one of the founders of the Connecticut Critics Circle, a frequent contributor to WPKN Radio’s “State of the Arts” program and the Stratford Crier and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company. He welcomes comments at: tholehan@yahoo.com. His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: www.ctcritics.org.

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