‘The Boys’ are a welcome sight at Colonial
BOSTON — “Jersey Boys” is the perfect marriage of music and story.
The most successful of the so-called “jukebox musicals” — musicals where the source music is already part of popular culture — “Jersey Boys” succeeds and soars because of the superb book by Marshall Brockman and Rick Elice that digs deep into the personas of the Four Seasons, led by legendary lead singer Frankie Valli.
“Jersey Boys” captured four Tonys, including Best Musical, in 2006 , and the national tour of the show, which will be at the Citi Emerson Colonial Theater through March 3, is faithful successor to the two productions that have come before and drew 150,000 people.
Brickman and Elice’s book takes us behind the music; it’s a story of love, lust, loyalty, overwhelming success, betrayal, heart-rending disappointment and, finally, redemption. Three of the original Four Seasons, including Valli, started out as small-time crooks and high school dropouts singing on street corners. They eventually made it all the way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but not without many bumps and bruises along the way.
The show allows each of the four original members of the group — Valli, Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and Bob Gaudio — to give their view of how it all went down, and why they did what they did.
As DeVito (John Gardiner) says at the beginning of the show, “You ask four different guys, you get four different versions of what happened.”
The backstory of putting the group together dominates the early portion of the show, until the first bars of “Sherry” erupt from the stage and the show really takes off with three of the group’s early hits.
Ah, the music. It spans four decades of hits, with the electrifying live performances done in full concert mode — Howell Binkley’s Tony Award-winning lighting helps create the atmosphere — and Sergio Trujillo’s choreography gets the audience involved in numbers such as “December 1963.” (“Oh, What a Night.)
Nick Cosgrove as Valli has a tough act to follow in Joseph Leo Bwarie , who played the role in the two previous visits to Boston, but Cosgrove is a s strong actor and succeeds in channeling Valli’s almost-impossible-to-duplicate soaring falsettos.
Michael Lomenda has some nice comic moments as Nick Massi, the self-proclaimed “Ringo” of the group and a talented arranger.
Gardiner gives substance to the explosive, mercurial DeVito, who gives the group its start but whose misdeeds threaten to sink the ship and take everyone down with it.
There is also a strong performance by Miles Jacoby, who grew up in Wellesley and Weston, as Bob Gaudio, the songwriting genius who took the group to another level, and whose 40-year business partnership with Valli rested and still rests on a handshake.
They are supported by Jonathan Hadley as music producer Bob Crewe, who wrote many of the songs with Gaudio, and Lauren Decierdo in a multitude of roles.
Things begin to unravel in the second act as resentment and jealously start to tear the group apart, and we learn about the high personal price Valli and the others paid for their many years on the road and a career that saw the group sell 175 millions records worldwide before they were 30.
“Jersey Boys” is a great musical and it is wonderful to see the 113-year-old landmark Colonial Theatre — whose future was in doubt — lit up again for a long run. Welcome back, “Boys.”
The national touring production of “Jersey Boys.” Directed by Des McAnuff. Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. Music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe, choreography by Sergio Trujillo. At the Citi Emerson Colonial Theatre through March 3. BroadwayinBoston.com.