If we could somehow harness the power and allure of the “boy band,” I feel certain we’d be able to achieve nothing short of world peace. What is it about a few guys on stage (in this case a well replicated Four Seasons, brought to us by Broadway San Jose through the sensational musical, Jersey Boys) executing some simple moves in synch and flashing well-timed, choreographed smiles, that make women (those with even the utmost respect for decorum) lose their freaking minds. How is it possible that matching outfits and harmony can stir a crowd into an absolute frenzy. Where is the logic in a “hit” song that can have the masses gasping in excitement at the immediate recognition of it upon hearing just the down beat. What exactly is this magnetic pull, this formula, that has an audience laying claims to and practically making wedding plans to their favorite (Nick, totally) during intermission. Explain to me how the right music, sung by the right combination of young men, can make one feel they are part of a giant yet exclusive club and simultaneously the only girl on the planet. Explain that and you have the world on a string.
What strikes me most about this show is how polished it is and how rapidly it moves. No one appeared to miss a single beat and there were about 6 billion of them that made up the show, giving the cast and crew ample opportunity for disaster throughout the night. Although you might not notice it as a result of it being so SMOOTH, this is probably one of the most technically advanced shows to come through the CPA in a while and it went off tremendously well. It takes superior advantage of the three-dimensional set up with excellent use of levels, video, numerous tracks seamlessly sliding items in and out, and lighting to cleverly mask, distract and highlight. Use of cast members bringing in set pieces, which usually bugs me, was slick too. All so impressively executed. What the entire ensemble is doing is enormously difficult and they all do it admirably. Sing…beat…talk…sing…move into your special light…quick change…play…move…sing…talk…emote…drama…sing some more… all in sync, all in time, all go-go-go, all done without ever being out of breath or sharp or flat. It’s really quite amazing from the technical standpoint, cleverly crafted and superbly executed, not to mention the entire cast of characters being über likable and marvelously talented.
Beyond the songs and the big budget tech-wow, Jersey Boys is deeper than your average Jukebox musical. Themes of fame, youth, poverty, friendship, loyalty, love, loss, music and the very different business of making music, permeate the piece. With an often humorous vehicle for the stories about the band, these different perspectives, personalities and voices really explore harmony in every sense of the word, without losing sight of the core music that brought these boys together and ultimately tore them apart.
With no particular attachment to the era or the Four Seasons personally, I was still unable to resist the influence of this gathering of young male talent. It probably didn’t help/hurt either that I’m a total sucker for a New Jersey accent, that classic accompanying confidence/attitude and the prolific but precisely and never too gratuitous placement of f-bombs. It’s a toe tapping, leave while humming show for sure. My three-legged wonder (and sometimes theater critic) cats can certainly attest to my enjoyment of the show, but not for my own musical talent (or lack thereof). They were seriously nonplussed about my Frankie Valli impersonation which apparently went on via private concert for them, well after the conclusion of the real show.
If you can swing it, your sweet spot for seating with regard to sound for this show is probably rows 5-15. higher than 15 and you do get a bit of the Balcony overhang “muting” despite their being speakers aimed at the section. Visually I don’t think you can go wrong anywhere, they do a great job of keeping the action front and center so side seats aren’t obstructed nearly as much as some other shows. The theatre was warm for sure, so bring layers just in case if you are prone to getting over heated in the “bad” way.
Every now and then I’m genuinely surprised that I enjoy a show as much as the 20 million people to see it before me. This is a prime example. 4 out of 5 jewels in the review tiara for a masterfully staged, fun, informative, insight into the lives of an extremely influential part of Rock and Roll history. A really pleasant way to spend 2 1/2 hours and to experience some serious art. Jersey Boys plays through Sunday July, 20th at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts.