For a minute, I thought about just going back and finding my old reviews for Jersey Boys and just republishing them. Because, let’s be honest, my love for this show has not diminished since the first time I saw it come to life on stage. But, that wouldn’t be fair to this awesome cast, so here in my (third or fourth) review of one of my favorite shows.
On the surface, there isn’t much about Jersey Boys that I thought I would like. The music was old. It was based on a true story. I didn’t think it had any of the pop and story that I usually am drawn to in theater. And then I saw it. And I was blown away. Musically, it may be one of the most exhausting and exhilarating pieces of theater I’ve ever witnessed. From the first notes to the last bow, the cast seamlessly blends the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons with the behind the microphone drama of broken families, broken promises, heartbreak and what it really means to be from the neighborhood.
I am always a little nervous when I walk into this show. For me, the entire things hinges on the people playing Frankie and Bobby. Frankie has to hit the notes, sure, but he also has to be vulnerable, smart, passionate and charismatic. Bobby has to be innocent, persuasive and honest. Now, to be fair, I’ve never seen a bad version of this show. That doesn’t stop me from being a little nervous. But, Tuesday night’s show once again blew me out of the water.
As Frankie, Hayden Milanes brings to life a boy who becomes a man before your eyes. Milanes’ Valli is eager and passionate, but not afraid to stand up for what he wants when everything is on the line. And, when push comes to shove, he doesn’t leave a friend out in the cold (even when he has every right). On top of that, Milanes is a pitch-perfect Valli, from low note to high. I cannot even imagine what it takes to do this show six times a week, but he makes it look effortless. Every bit the showman and performer, Milanes shines during the numbers directed straight to the audience and the Four Seasons rise to fame.
Tommaso Antico was Bobby for our show. While he doesn’t have top billing in the role, it will be hard for me to see anyone else as Bobby. Antico may have the best look and voice I have seen in the part in all my viewings. Young and innocent, but determined to make something of himself and not fall back on trade school, Antico used his night at Bobby to perfection and raised the whole cast to a new level. Matthew Dailey as Tommy and Keith Hines as Nick round out the main characters. Tommy is the storyteller and, hand to God, he does it right. You know he’s an unreliable narrator from the beginning, but that just adds to his charm. Nick is the glue that holds the group together in so many ways. But Hines’ spectacular breakdown is one of the highlights of the show!
Jersey Boys is about the music, sure. But it’s also about family. And not just the people you’re related to, but the people who know you best – your friends. There is a comment made in the show about how life on the road is different from life at home. I can only imagine that is especially true for the cast of Jersey Boys. The four male leads spend and inordinate amount of time together on stage, and their easy friendship shines through their roles and reactions to each other.
I would caution friends with kids – there is a good amount of language in the show. Use discretion if you’re taking someone who doesn’t like that kind of thing. But, don’t let it dissuade you from seeing Jersey Boys when it comes to a city near you.
Jersey Boys is playing at the IU Auditorium through March 8. Tickets are still available at iuauditorium.com.
Ft. Wayne friends & Family, Jersey Boys is coming to the Embassy April 14-19. It’s totally worth the price of admission. I promise.