In what could be argued as the pivotal point in a life full of swing moments for these four kids from Jersey, Frankie, Tommy and Nick set eyes on new kid Bob for the first time when plucky talent pusher Joey Fish – yeah, the kid turn out to be Joe Pesci, we find out in a funny and pleasing aside – won’t take no about the connection.
It’s the turning point in the production of Jersey Boys at the Landmark Theatre on Friday night, too, as actor Cory Jeacoma takes his spot behind the keyboard and proves that he’s got the chops to prove that Bob Gaudio was no one-hit wonder at the age of 15. And Aaron De Jesus, his face lights up as Frankie Valli and he just can’t help but add that distinctive soprano voice of his to the mix. Keith Hines, perfectly odd as bass man Nick Massi, picks up his foundation builder and joins in. Finally, reluctantly, pompous band leader Tommy DeVito has to give in and participate, and Matthew Dailey has the right amount of cockiness for this, too.
When they click on Gaudio’s newly written song Stay, these actors’ voices, it’s very good. And the fans in the house know it. The music of the Four Seasons that’s become a fabric of their lives will be fun this night. And the story of this band will be told in an interesting manner, too, each actor taking a turn in the spotlight to relay his musician’s role in propelling the quartet from New Jersey into the spotlight, its rise and its demise.
The music carries much of the magic, so the tale is told in quick hits of dialogue to get everybody to the songs they want to hear quickly but still make the messages clear and dramatic. Valli’s rise to success, a rocky road filled with divorce, death, betrayals and fierce loyalty, is well-known to most of the audience by now. But still it’s a sight and sound to behold, a journey made easy to connect to when done right.
And this production hits the right notes. The lighting and stage setting were intimate or dynamic enough to make the smaller numbers feel like a cozy night club and the show stoppers feel like a big stage show. Who Loves You, indeed.
‘Jersey Boys’ continues its run at the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse through Sunday. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster.com.