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AWARDS-WINNER “JERSEY BOYS”

Opens with a Standing Ovation

By Iride Aparicio

Photos by: Jeremy Daniel
Four Seasons 1
        L-R Michael Lomenda, Nick Cosgrove, Miles Jacoby  and John Gardiner


SAN FRANCISCO, CA –  He knew about it; it was part of his Italian heritage. Frankie Valli a young Italian singer growing up in New Jersey in the l960’s  knew what loyalty was. He was loyal to his family, he was loyal to all his friends, and at the end he was loyal to Tommy DeVito, the older Italian man who had helped him survive at one point of his life.  When DeVito needed him. He could not let him down, so Frankie Valli sacrificed for him everything he had. It was a moving story that needed to be told as it happened, with music and songs. It was told. Its name is JERSEY BOYS.

Playing at the SHN Currant Theatre, on a return engagement,  the hit  four Tony-awards winner musical  in 2006 including Best Musical, and the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical in 2009, JERSEY BOYS is based on a true story; the story of  Frankie Valli and a rock group by the name of THE FOUR SEASONS. Its book was put together by writers MARSHALL BRICKMAN and RICK ELICE using interviews with three surviving members of the group: Gaudio, Valli and DeVito. A former member of the group,  BOB GAUDIO, wrote  the music and BOB CREWE the lyrics. The story is told in parts, each part told by each one of the group's members, as only they could tell it: in their songs.

JERSEY BOYS  opens on a bare stage where the addition of props: tables, chairs, beds, microphones even toilets to represent “a night in jail,” move us rapidly to different cities, bars, bowling alleys, houses, recording studios or  nightclubs where the action takes place. The music is played and sang by the actors. Some songs are played in guitar, others in keyboards or accompanied by the band playing in the background.

Four Seasons 2
       “DAWN” L0MENDA, GARDINER, COSGROVE and JACOBY

The story of THE FOUR SEASONS is told during four seasons of their lives:

SPRING (l963)
The story starts on the Spring of l963 with  Tommy DeVito (JOHN GARDINER) standing on the stage offering the audience to tell the story of a band he started with two other singers. Its name  “The Variety Trio.” His Trio soon turns into a quartet when his brother and Nick Massi (MICHAEL LOMENDA) another band member, discover a young Italian singer by the name of Frankie Castelluccio in the neighborhood. DeVito likes his voice. He knows that his group needed another singer so he decides to give Frankie (NICK COSGROVE) a chance to sing with the group. DeVito never imagined that one day in the near future Frankie's “falsetto” singing was going to give the FOUR SEASONS  its "sound" identity.

Hearing their Songs, looking at their dancing and listening to their spoken dialogue, we follow the four singers lives for a few years. During that time, we see Tommy going in and out of prison, for different reasons. one of them, never paying his bills. We observe Massi training Castelluccio to sing. We see a more mature Frankie changing his Castelluccio last name to Valli. Witness his meeting, falling in love, and marrying Mary Delgado (KARA TREME) And maybe trying to solve their money problems, we see Frankie and Tommy developing a good relationship with Mob boss Gyp DeCarlo (DONNIE KEHR).

SUMMER
With so many good things happening to the group at once, Summer is a wonderful part of the show. There is the addition of  Bob Gaudio (TOMMASO ANTICO) to the band, a young and talented composer who wants  Frankie to sing his songs. What it means to the audience, is that we have a chance to hear the greatest singing from the group: “Sherry,” “Big Girls don’t Cry” and “Walk like a Man.” We also learn that with such hit songs the band is going up in the music world. It even gets a contract with producer Bob Crewe (JONATHAN HADLEY) but only to sing back-up. By the end of Summer, the quartet also gets is name: “THE FOUR SEASONS.” 

FALL
Things start falling down for the grout during the Fall Season.   The four members are fighting among themselves. Massi (LOMENDA) accuses  Bob (JACOBY) to be so seduced by the band’s success that he has been unaware that the band is in financial trouble. Tommy continues racking up debts with hotels and with the IRS. He also becomes jealous of Frankie’s success. Yet, with the help of Gyp, the Mob boss, the money problems are arranged, but Massi (LOMENDA) walks out of the group.

WINTER

Four Seasons 3
NICK COSGROVE as Frankie and MILES JACOBY  as Bob

Things don't look good at this time, but a handshake from Valli is all Bob needs to reassure him that everything will be all right. He knows that Frankie is an honorable man. He keeps his word. His handshake is as good as a written document. He is correct. In part because of Bob’s songs, Frankie continues to succeed. Who could not love: “bye, Bye, Baby,” “Working My Way Back to You” or the song that almost did not get release. “Can’t Take My Eyes Off you.” Alone or in a group, Frankie continues singing, his life is good, but not forever. The wings of the “angel” in his life were fragile.

Directed by two-time Tony ® Award-winner director DES McANUFF the acting in the production is presented with such feeling that it moves the audience. People want to sing along the songs of THE FOUR SEASONS. Laugh with the successes of its singers, and cry with their tragedies.   As Frankie Valli, COSGROVE managed to put a lot of drama in his role, feeling in the interpretation of his songs, and energy in his performance. Realistic are also the performances of GARDINER, ANTICO and LOMENTA. The musical is good because each one of  the characters in the musical represent his or her role realistically, from beginning to end. Their singing is great, all have good voices, and all vocalize their lyrics well. The band is tuned and the ensemble dancing synchronized. The standing ovation that the cast of  JERSEY BOYS received at the end of their opening night for the press in San Francisco, was earned. Their performances were excellent.

Tickets for "JERSEY BOYS" are available at the SHN Curran Theatre 455 Geary ST.  Online at shnsf.com or

by phone at 888-746-1799.

Jersey Boys Highlights

Video Courtesy of SHN