Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires
How this display of alchemy is accomplished is pretty mind-boggling. Music Theatre of Connecticut is a relatively small theatre, with a tiny stage, but their staging of Jersey Boys plays like a megawatt blockbuster. The chief hero of the show has got to be director Kevin Connors, whose previous work has been consistently excellent, but he has really outdone himself with this production. He works splendidly with his assistant director Katie Goffman, who is also responsible for the sizzling choreography. The actors enter and exit the stage from six different directions and the staging is almost nonstop, with something exciting to watch or listen to at any given moment.
Of course, any production of Jersey Boys will rise or fall on the casting of the four leads. The company comes up aces in this department, with each actor making his mark in his respective role. Nathan Cockroft is tough and funny as Tommy DeVito, starting the show on a high note as soon as he addresses the audience in the opening scene. Cockroft is also a wonderful singer and dancer. The same goes for both Sean McGee as Bob Gaudio and Stephen Petrovich as Nick Massi. As the writer of the group's songs, McGee shines and his performance is nuanced and intelligent. Petrovich earns big laughs as the put-upon Nick Massi, perhaps the most resilient and silent member of the group. His second act speech about rooming for ten years with Tommy DeVito is particularly hilarious.
And then there is Michael Fasano as Frankie Valli. Fasano is a powerhouse in the role and the beauty of his singing is awe inspiring. In such songs as "Sherry" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," the electric energy of this actor is almost palpable. And, while Fasano has played this role in other productions, his portrayal is consistently fresh and surprising. When the four actors appear together in such group numbers as "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Walk Like a Man," the show takes off like a rocket.
In other roles, John Treacy Egan is appropriately intimidating and frightening as Gyp DeCarlo, and Matt Mancuso is quite fine as Bob Crewe, the one who truly gets The Four Seasons started. Brianna Bauch, Emily Solo, and Skye Gillespie are great as the women in the guys' lives, with Gillespie particularly moving as Frankie Valli's daughter Francine. There are also strong contributions from Michael Luongo, David L. Murray Jr., Robert Peterpaul, and Jeff Raab, the latter playing a very funny Joe Pesci.
The scenic design by Sean Sanford is sleek and inviting, with many different playing areas on the set. Diane Vanderkroef provides costumes that evoke the era perfectly, and the lighting design by RJ Romeo is atmospheric and striking. Expert musical director Tony Bellomy leads a thrilling off-stage band. When these musicians get going, they practically raise the roof.
Jersey Boys at Music Theatre of Connecticut proves to be much more than the sum of its parts. This is probably the most larger-than-life show I have ever seen this theatre company produce and I recommended that you do whatever you can to get tickets. It truly is that good.
Jersey Boys runs through October 1, 2023, at Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Ave., Norwalk CT. For tickets and information, please visit www.musictheatreofct.com.