12:00 AM CDT on Saturday, July 26, 2008
By LAWSON TAITTE / The Dallas Morning News
View this article on their website here
Talk about a buildup: We are two-thirds of the way through the first act of Jersey Boys before the Four Seasons come together for their first big hit. When “Sherry” finally does erupt, it’s as if a skyscraper-sized bottle of champagne exploded.
The 2006 Tony Award winner for best musical opened at the Dallas Summer Musicals on Friday (after a couple of previews). The show doesn’t miss a beat in its transfer from Broadway to the road. You’ve probably never heard the names of any of the performers, but no matter. Jersey Boys doesn’t need stars, it creates them.
Marshall Brickman and Rick Ellice wrote one of the all-time great show librettos in telling the story of four working-class Italian boys who became one of the most successful musical groups ever. Take that example of the long buildup: Hearing the cover songs the boys sang as they established their career gives the tale a context. So do the pop-art and video projections Michael Clark designed for Klara Zieglerova’s ingenious set.
Each of the four group members narrates – and dominates – a quarter of the show. Tommy DeVito (Erik Bates) is the deal maker – and corner cutter, stealing when he needs to and gambling away his earnings during the good times. The baby-faced Bob Gaudio (Andrew Rannells) writes the music and doesn’t really feel part of the neighborhood. In his segment, Mr. Rannells proves that white bread can be charismatic and nearly steals the show.
Nick Massi (Steve Gouveia), the quiet one, gets tired of touring and wants to go back home. Of course, the frontman is Frankie Valli (Joseph Leo Bwarie). Tommy treats him like a lowly kid brother, but Bob knows that that strange, high-flying voice is the one he was destined to write for.
After intermission, we see the group falling apart. The emergence of Frankie’s solo career is the second act’s trajectory – and once again the build to the huge hit “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” is tremendously exciting.
Director Des McAnuff wove all the elements of Jersey Boys into a swirling, precisely choreographed showpiece that keeps on gaining momentum. Entertainment doesn’t get any slicker – or more accomplished.
PLAN YOUR LIFE Through Aug. 16 at Fair Park Music Hall. Runs 155 mins. $25 to $124. Ticketmaster at 214-631-2787, http://www.ticketmaster.com.