News Column

Jukebox Magic

May 17, 2013

YellowBrix

May 17--They were four boys from New Jersey, from the wrong side of the tracks, actually. But with precision and smart song craftsmanship, Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi quickly became one of the biggest American pop music sensations of all time as The Four Seasons during the mid-1960s.

They wrote their own material, invented their own sounds and sold more than 175 million records worldwide -- all before they were 30.

Their hit singles include "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Sherry," "December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)," "My Eyes Adored You," "Stay," "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," "Working My Way Back to You" and "Rag Doll."

It's their story that inspired the Broadway hit "Jersey Boys." The touring musical will begin a nearly two-week engagement at Popejoy Hall.

"Jersey Boys" picked up a Tony Award for best musical in 2006, as well as a Grammy Award for best musical show album that same year. It is directed by two-time Tony Award winner Des McAnuff and is written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice.

Elice, who has seen the show well over 100 times, says that when he sees the musical, he sees something different each time.

"I live near Broadway and I'll go catch a show sometimes," he explains during a recent interview from New York. "What's great is that the audience changes night after night and you get something different from it each time. It's something that doesn't get old for me."

Elice says working on what would become "Jersey Boys" happened by accident. He always wanted to work with Brickman on a project, and was told about a band called The Four Seasons.

"I certainly didn't know about the group and Marshall asked if I would like to have lunch with Frankie (Valli) and Bob (Gaudio)," he recalls. "We sat in the back of a very dark restaurant and they told us their story. I thought to myself, 'How come we had never heard anything about them?' They were never really written about because they were blue collar and they came from the wrong side of the river and they weren't magazine fodder. It was at this point we got interested about the untold story of this group of men."

As the two men wrote the treatment for the musical, Valli and Gaudio remained part of the creative process.

Elice says "Jersey Boys" premiered at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego in October 2004 and ran through January 2005. Previews on Broadway began in October 2005 and the musical officially opened in November 2005.

"It was a journey to get the story from page to stage," Elice says. "It was worth all the time and Frankie (Valli) and Bob (Gaudio) were there along the way to ensure that the story remained authentic."

Elice says the goal was to tell an interesting story and not worry about what critics in New York would think of the show.

"We were creating this jukebox musical that really no one recognized," he says. "When we opened in Southern California, we were blank with expectation and the audience went crazy for the show. The next night, it was sold out and by the third night, we were having repeat customers. During the run at La Jolla, we met people in the lobby that were from Scotland, Germany and the U.K. It was instantly embraced and I think it's because of their story."

The touring version stars Brandon Andrus as Massi, Colby Foytik as DeVito, Jason Kappus as Gaudio and Brad Weinstock as Valli.

Elice says he's had the opportunity to meet all of the cast members and even see the touring version.

"The thing about musical theater is that we quickly become a family," he says. "We're all part of a collaborative effort and it's because we work hard and well that this has continued to be a success."

'Jersey Boys'

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 22; 2 and 7 p.m. Thursday, May 23; 8 p.m. May 24; 2 and 8 p.m. May 25; 1 and 6:30 p.m. May 26; 7:30 p.m. May 28; 7:30 p.m. May 29 and 30; 2 and 8 p.m. May 31 and June 1; 1 p.m. June 2.

WHERE: Popejoy Hall, UNM Center for the Arts

HOW MUCH: $27.50-$135 at UNM ticket offices and select Albertsons locations or online at popejoypresents.com or unmtickets.com or 877-664-8661 or 925-5858

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(c)2013 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)

Visit the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.) at www.abqjournal.com

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