By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel
JERSEY BOYS – The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons landed as a smash-hit success at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre on December 10, 2006. Stepping into the spotlight at the final curtain call, two of the original Jersey Boys – Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio – another one of those “Only in San Francisco” happenings. The champagne corks must still be flying because the show has been extended through September. JERSEY BOYS and its San Francisco cast – is the singular most amazing piece of entertainment you are likely to find in The City right now and for more seasons to come. There are standing ovations during the acts! The performances are superb, rivaling the original Broadway cast, maybe the Four Seasons. In the guise of a “musical”, JERSEY BOYS is the working definition of Theatre.
WALK LIKE A MAN – Christopher Kale Jones, Erich Bergen, Deven May, Michael Ingersoll
As Frankie Valli, Christopher Kale Jones has the true vocal chops of a Tenor Pop Star. Warmed up and in full throttle by the introduction of “Sherry“, Jones captures Valli’s signature falsetto with full-calendar authority. Not the heady tones of the vibrato-laden countertenor (or “male soprano”), Christopher’s high Pop/Treble is solid, totally secure, hot and inviting. Jones has the authentic easy-sweet and inviting presence of the edgy and elegant ’60s Lead Pop Singer.
JERSEY BOYS – Michael Ingersoll, Christopher Kale Jones, Erich Bergen, Deven May
In an entirely other vocal strata, keeping his voice in a normal placement throughout an exquisite solo, “Cry For Me“, Erich Bergen is the perfect choice for the role of songwriter Bob Gaudio. Bergen radiates steady and reserved confidence of the multi-gifted baritone member who claims to not give a damn about “the Jersey neighborhood”, eventually leaving the singer’s spotlight and concentrating on such masterful compositions as “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You“.
When Frankie and Bob are finally getting it at that DeVito (Deven May) has ruined them financially, that the big-suited “bosses” are wanting their money, the two come to a private understanding.
Bob Gaudio: [To Frankie Valli] Maybe we should make an investment.
FV: In what?
FV: What do you mean?
BG: Well, you got the voice. I got the songs.
FV: Yeah, so?
BG: So, we make a partnership. I give you half of everything I write, you give me half of everything you record outside the group.
FV: OK, I’m in.
BG: Great! So, should we like have somebody draw up a contract?
FV: What, you mean sign a piece of paper from a lawyer?
BG: I guess.
FV: You want to do this thing?
BG: Yeah, I just mean….
FV: So we do it! You want a contract? [FV offers his hand to BG.] Here. A Jersey contract. [They shake.] Hey! Things work out – think we could talk about a saxophone?
BG: Hey! If things work out, we can talk about a whole horn section.
This sound of this quartet sparkles because these four singers are matched perfectly. When cut down to a trio for “Stay“, the mellower tones of Michael Ingersoll (as Nick Massi) anchor the flow of the song. Later in Act II, Ingersoll delivers a fabulous monologue in which he details the hygienic habits of the group’s creator, Tommy DeVito – “For ten years!” As the hotel roommate, Nick has endured DeVito’s obsession with usurping every available towel while consuming those teeny bars of soap, yet not changing his underwear for three days while double-ironing his dress shirts. As with the songs, Michael Ingersoll’s monologue received a round of well-deserved applause. Ingersoll’s speaking and singing voice is beautiful; his presence on stage is sturdy, his sense of humor is light and dry. We feel his basic truth for leaving the group – he needs to be a father to his children.
Deven May is brilliant as Tommy DeVito. As the thrust behind the creation of The Four Seasons, the beefy Deven May is clearly “the heavy”, a sort of in-the-ballpark “guido”, with a beautiful baritone voice and a very handsome mug. His character is an obvious schmuck; he is the cause and central core of the group’s hardships – and a classic version of the guy you love to hate. In the group’s early days with DeVito constantly changing its name (including Frankie Castelluccio becoming Frankie Valli) and booking them into every dive and bowling alley, “The Lovers” wind up at a joint called The Four Seasons – its name ablaze in red and blue neon. “Look at that!” declares the awe-struck DeVito. “It’s a sign!”
JERSEY BOYS – The Four Seasons
JERSEY BOYS is a clear sign that well-written material withstands the Test of Time. The music of Bob Gaudio and the lyrics of Bob Crewe (played by John Altieri) are timeless, straight from the garden, motivating, romantic, danceable and quickly taken to heart. Frankie Valli says Jersey Boys is a taste of reality. “It’s about four guys that grew up in a certain way, in a certain period of time who – with all odds against them – became successful.” It makes total sense when you hear the music of The Four Seasons sung by these four fresh and new equally studly gents. Jersey Boys is not a nostalgic look back, or a PBS fund-raiser, nor an obligatory retro-fitted musical dinosaur demanding attention.
JERSEY BOYS – The Finale
Bob Gaudoni spoke about a friend who came to see the show and exclaimed, “You know, I think this show is going to be bigger than you guys were.” Gaudoni’s response? “Terrific!”
Given its simple and effective choreography by Sergio Trujillo and under the vital and meticulous direction of two-time Tony Award winner Des McAnuff – JERSEY BOYS is working its “way back to you”.
TEAM JERSEY BOYS – (left to right) Rick Elice (book), Bob Gaudio (composer), Marshall Brickman (book), Des McAnuff (director)
Jersey Boys has been extended through September 2007. Your eyes will adore them!
To order tickets on-line: JERSEY BOYS
See Seán’s recent articles and interviews:
See Seán’s recent articles and reviews:
LA VIE EN ROSE (La Môme) – Biography of Edith Piaf A Sensation at the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival
SPIDER-MAN 3, An All-American Cinematic Marvel
RIGOLETTO – SF OPERA Broadcasts on Classical 102.1 KDFC
JERSEY BOYS – Smashing Records in SAN FRANCISCO
NORMA SHEARER – Headlines the 12th ANNUAL SILENT FILM FESTIVAL
DON QUIXOTE – An Impossible Dream at SF Ballet
THE DAMNATION OF FAUST – Absolute Heaven at Davies Symphony Hall
JEANETTE MacDONALD – First Lady of “San Francisco”
An Interview with PASCAL MOLAT – Principal Soloist, San Francisco Ballet
TERRA HAUTE – An Interview with The Stars, John Hutchinson and Elias Escobedo
San Francisco Sentinel’s Fine Arts Critic Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Ask him a question on AllExperts.com . If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.