Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Also see Susan's review of My Fair Lady
The musical about the origins of the Four Seasons opened on Broadway in 2005 and, following the end of its Broadway run, reopened in an Off-Broadway house. Director Des McAnuff and choreographer Sergio Trujillo have kept the material as crisp and incisive as ever for the touring production, with a powerhouse 12-member cast and a small, hard-working orchestra.
Bookwriters Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice use the "four seasons" theme to present the history of the legendary rock 'n' roll quartet from the perspectives of the founding members. Tommy DeVito (Corey Greenan), a tough New Jersey guy with a talent for music, starts the story in "spring" as he brings Frankie Valli (Jon Hacker), a teenager with an otherworldly falsetto vocal register, into his struggling singing groupand introduces the kid to less legal ways of making money. Bob Gaudio (Eric Chambliss), songwriter and performer, joins in "summer" as the quartet finds its identity (and its name) and stumbles into success. Bass player Nick Massi (Michael Milton) recounts the "fall" as personal and professional struggles threaten to destroy the group, but Valli keeps things going into "winter."
Valli has to be the heart of Jersey Boys and Hacker, who has played the role in New York, captivates with both a ringing voice and deep sensitivity. Eric Chambliss is endearing as Gaudio, another rock prodigy (he wrote his first hit song at age 15) who learns to keep up with his rougher-edged bandmates. Greenan is convincing as a hothead who never thinks about the consequences of his actions, and Milton is the quiet, reserved bass player. Sean McGee plays Bob Crewe, lyricist and music producer, as over-the-top but committed to the quality of his work.
The cast keeps things chugging on Klara Zieglerova's industrial-scaffolding set, highlighted with Howell Binkley's concert-like lighting (which sometimes zaps the audience), Michael Clark's pop art-inspired projections, and Steve Canyon Kennedy's all-encompassing sound design. Jess Goldstein's costumes depict the Four Seasons' journey from blue-collar to suits with rhinestone-trimmed lapels, while the wig and hair design by Charles G. LaPointe helps the three women in the cast (Ashley Bruce, Connor Lyon, Amy Weaver) shift easily from outspoken girlfriends and singers to Frankie's troubled teenage daughter.
The National Theatre