Sunday, February 25, 2007

Jersey Jukebox Joy - Jersey Boys: The Musical - Review

Jersey Boys - August Wilson Theater, New York

Okay, so I finally succumbed and went to see the current hardest ticket-to-get on Broadway during our Broadway marathon this past week. I initially had no interest in seeing Jersey Boys, since the whole jukebox musical, with the exception of the highly fun and campy Mamma Mia, has been butchered many times over (The Times Are A Changin', Ring of Fire, Closer To Heaven, We Will Rock You etc. etc. etc.). Still, reviews and word of mouth were good, it won the Tony Award for Best Musical (though not always a good indication, see Fosse) and again, it was the hot ticket so at least there was some bragging rights to getting tickets.

To my surprise, I quite enjoyed Jersey Boys. Nothing revolutionary or anything, but its a nice straight up telling of the rise of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Basic straight line storytelling about the troubled Jersey youths who through thick and thin, rose from their neighbourhood and became an American musical icon. Who doesn't love a Cinderella story? Plus they are lucky that the songs from The Four Seasons are so well known and liked so half their job is done (again, the appeal of the Jukebox musical but also somewhat lazy writing you could say).

What totally sells the show though are John Lloyd Young, Christian Hoff and Daniel Reichard as three of The Four Seasons (the other dude was okay but either a minor character or a minor actor who diminished the character). John Lloyd Young as high pitched Frankie Valli was last years A Star is Born story and eventually won the Tony for Best Actor and completely deserving. However, I felt Christian Hoff almost should have had the lead actors spot, since his role was just as large and important, and Hoff completely sold it. Reichard meanwhile has been left off without awards but that doesn't mean he was terrible, in fact, with all the hoopla about the other two actors, Reichard was the biggest surprise since he was terrific as Bobby, who ends up writing the songs for Valli.

Which makes me wonder, how well can this show do without these three actors? Apparently the touring company is really good so apparently it can, but John Lloyd Young seems so tailor made for this role that I'll be impressed if they can find a suitable replacement.

UPDATE April 18 2007: So apparently John Lloyd Young just re-signed his contract for another 6 months starting in May (though he will still take his vaca at the end of April), so you still have a chance to see him in the lead role until November at least. Guess they couldn't find that replacement yet?

So alas, I enjoyed Jersey Boys, which is a straight laced rock solid piece of entertainment and I can now approve of it beating The Drowsy Chaperone (which I also enjoyed but not as much) for Best Musical last year.

Oh and for those wondering, there are 12 student rush tickets available for each show, on sale when the box office opens (usually 10am except Sundays which is 12 I believe). Apparently last summer and fall, the lineup was about 4-5 hours long but on a cold February Tuesday, we got there at 7am and were first in line, though it filled up pretty quickly soon after so I would say the cut off time seems to be about 8am. (Its $26.50/ticket, 2 tickets per Student ID, you can only use the student ID once per calendar month, Cash only). - UPDATE FALL 2007 - APPARENTLY THE STUDENT RUSH DEAL WAS CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, BUT STANDING ROOM IS STILL AVAILABLE

After that, they have Standing Room tickets (only for performances that are sold out but this show is completely sold out for months. Apparently the first available regular ticket on Friday night is in Nov 2007, and the first available Saturday night is in 2008. That's CRAZY. It's a GOOD show but not THAT GOOD) but it is one per person in line and I think there are only 10-16 standing room spots. I forgot now, but not a lot. Those are sold 2 hours before the show, the line up our day apparently was about 2-3 hours long for that as well.

...and yes, I was trying to avoid titling the post "Oh What A Night" because that would be just too easy.

Click here for pictures of John Lloyd Young, Christian Hoff and Daniel Reichard in my Broadway Marathon post.


Anonymous said...

Two great reasons WHY Hoff was in featured and Young was in Lead for Tony awards>

1. Hoff is NOT in the entire show, he leaves halfway through act 2...and he does not sing much...in fact, see the show again and count how few times he sings...Young is in the entire show...save one short sequence (Oh, What a Night/Boyfriends Back) in Act 1, which is a great rest after he just sang 3 big songs back to back in a row (Sherry/Big Girls/Walk Like Man), then ALL of Act 2 he sings song after song after song, and narrates all of the second Act and sings a whole lot more (I have seen the show 4 times)

2. By having Hoff in Featured and Young in Leading...Jersey Boys took home 2 Tonys and neither one cancelled each other out...it made perfect business sense...

(also, if Reichard had been nominated as well as Hoff, THEY could have cancelled each other out...)

One more note...Bobby Spencer is a great actor in a less great role...it took me a while to notice how brilliant his performance is in Jersey Boys, but now, I love him as much as the others...

vance said...

Yeah, I wasn't sure if Bobby Spencer just sucked or his role was WAY underwritten, but I'll take your word that its the later. I always forgot he was there though while watching the other 3. I know why Lloyd Young won Actor and Hoff featured, but I think there is still a case that Hoff could have gotten the main role too. Just cause the story is on Frankie Valli, doesn't mean its the main role (he may be on stage for some parts but things seem to happen more around him (I'm probably wording this wrong). Still. Both were AMAZING either way (and a musical can only have one person in a main category, but multiples in the featured actor category apparently, or so I've been told). Still, it's too bad Reichard got left out.

But yes, Lloyd does sing a LOT and is AMAZING. Better go see it before he leaves in April (the rumour in the lineup from other crazed fans)

Ron Hoffman said...

Great Review of a great show. I saw it first in LaJolla before Young become Frankie. My concern was that no one could do as good a job as the La Jolla Frankie. Young does and then some.

Dan Reichard was my choice for the Tony nomination, but there were too many great performers in Jersey Boys.

I also encourge folks to see your other reviews. I second the motion that Spring Awakening and Company are great shows Have not seen Chorus Line revival bt I cannot imagine it beating Company for Best Revival.

vance said...

Well, I saw the revival of A Chorus Line first and LOVED IT. I hadn't seen the original so I was totally taken away. Meanwhile, Company has always been a favorite, but this new one is just so good, that as much as I loved ACL, I hope Company wins. Anyways, I like your list, though I wasn't taken with Wicked but I know I'm in the minority on that one.

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