Jersey Boys, the jukebox musical that opens the 2022-23 season at the elegantly renovated Maltz Theatre in Jupiter, dramatizes the formation, success and eventual break-up of the 1960s rock ‘n’ roll group, The Four Seasons, an ensemble that time, money woes and misfortune have not expunged.
Check YouTube. You can find a video of lead singer Frankie Valli performing earlier this year at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.
But Jersey Boys is a lot more than a simple story. It’s a paean to some kids who concocted a musical style while singing on street corners in New Jersey, then bucked it up by adding a youngster with a four-octave vocal range to create “the sound” that would go on to change a generation.
After ruffling through a raft of titles, they adopted the moniker, The Four Seasons, drawing it from the name of a bowling alley where they were performing. After bringing in a musical virtuoso with a flair for composing hit tunes, the quartet bounded onto the stage with a specially drafted song and style the ‘60s had never heard. The group’s premiere uber-hit, “Sherry,” rocked the melody world and changed the course of Top 40 recordings from then on.
The Maltz excellently captures the triumph and tragedy of musical megastars who had it all – and nearly lost it because of a band member’s greed and a tangle of business decisions that went awry.
But all the Four Seasons – lead vocalist and falsetto talent Frankie Valli (Josh Skurnik), composer/keyboardist Bob Gaudio (Quinn Corcoran), guitarist Tommy DeVito (Matthew Schatz) and bassist Nick Massi (Jason Michael Evans) suffered as achievement became the aphrodisiac that afflicts many young performers who succumb to the glamor of early triumph.
Josh Skurnik leads performers in a scene from “Jersey Boys,” playing through Nov. 13 at the Maltz Jupiter Theater, 1001 E. Indiantown Road, Jupiter. (Photo by Jason Nuttle)
The Maltz does just about everything right in this version of Jersey Boys, the tuneful sensation that hit the stage in 2004 with music by Gaudio, lyrics by esteemed producer Bob Crewe and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. Show creators have woven the story from early, not-so-successful exploits through musical stardom, heartbreaking woes, personal tragedy and an unexpectedly effective revival that pays off in the end.
The show’s creators spin the story among the group’s horde of top hit songs, including “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “December 1963 (Oh, What A Night),” “My Eyes Adored You,” “Stay,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Working My Way Back to You” and “Rag Doll,” among others.
Actually, some of the group’s pre-hit tunes also generate fond memories: “Silhouettes,” a cover of a familiar ‘50’s classic; “My Mother’s Eyes,” a song Valli sang to please Gyp DeCarlo, a friend and financial backer during the group’s early days; “I Go Ape,” a tune sung by the Seasons under the name The Four Lovers and the familiar “Short Shorts,” performed when they were called The Royal Teens.
Josh Skurnik is shown in a scene from “Jersey Boys,” playing through Nov. 13 at the Maltz Jupiter Theater, 1001 E. Indiantown Road, Jupiter. (Photo by Jeff Barry)
Despite the obvious effort that goes into the show, the performance gets off to a shaky start. Skurnik’s initial efforts to match Valli’s spot-on falsetto deviates from the mark, giving the earliest songs a tinny overtone. Thankfully, he quickly works his way back to baseline. Even before the vocalists reach the Four Seasons’ big hits, they are right on the money.
In fact, Skurnik more than ably recreates Valli’s sound – and with backing by Corcoran, Schatz, Evans and others who fill in when original Four Seasons members leave, the songs are close to carbon copies of the originals. Skurnik’s rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” drew emotional applause from a mixed audience of boomers, millennials and Gen-Xers.
The show unfolds on a three-part stage with a center performance area and two elevated platforms to the left and right. Lighting runs a gamut from soft for quieter scenes to explosive, as when the words, “The Four Seasons” illuminate a specially designed rear wall of massive lighted letters behind the actors.
The show’s finale is perhaps the worthiest endeavor. It draws the full cast on stage for an immersive music and light show featuring the Four Seasons’ hit, “Who Loves You?” and taps the power of the newly installed, 216-screen LED wall for a spectacular send-off worthy of the standing ovation it gets.
Taylor Machesko and Josh Skurnik in a scene from “Jersey Boys,” playing through Nov. 13 at the Maltz Jupiter Theater, 1001 E. Indiantown Road, Jupiter. (Photo by Jeff Barry)