“Jersey Boys” delivers the hits

Irresistible energy marks the return of this show
“Jersey Boys” delivers the hits
Cory Jeacoma, Matthew Dailey, Aaron De Jesus and Keith Hines star as The Four Seasons in "Jersey Boys." Photo by Jeremy Daniel 

Although “Jersey Boys” is “returning to Madison by popular demand!” through Jan. 8, this is no marketing hyperbole–it’s worth taking in again if you’ve already seen it, and definitely warrants seeing it if you haven’t.

This 2006 award-winning show takes us on the journey of Frankie Valli and the group he made famous, The Four Seasons. Judging from the rhythmic clapping from much of the Overture Hall audience, a good number of the crowd were among those who probably had indeed demanded a return engagement.

The musical hits speak (and sing and move) for themselves, but what drives the show are the strong individual personalities of the principals that deftly weave in and out with a dramatic and humorous chemistry that matches that of the ensemble’s memorable harmonies.

Chief among them is Aaron De Jesus as Valli, properly diminutive in height–and even more properly calibrated in raw energy and vocal execution. He is matched well by Matthew Dailey as Tommy DeVito, Cory Jeacoma as Bob Gaudio (the songwriter whose talent is the final catalyst to put the group on its inexorable rise to superstar status) and Keith Hines as Nick Massi.

The early events in Valli’s life lay the groundwork for the emerging story line. Act one is an irresistible wave of fluid stage movements and rapid fire tunes. When we get to “Sherry” about forty-five minutes into the show, everything gets taken up a notch, as if a colorful kaleidoscope pattern suddenly became three-dimensional.

The story is told with each member of the Seasons taking a turn, beginning with DeVito, then Gaudio. In act two, Massi and Valli speak. Director Des McAnuff seemingly never tires of all the moving parts (people and scenery) at his disposal. Of course the quickly darkening events of act two (DeVito’s enormous secret debts, and later, the overdose death of Valli’s daughter), are not given the same hectic treatment, and McAnuff reveals a telling ability to use silence and stillness powerfully enough to make us squirm, and long for the performance’s earlier ebullience. In the end, the foursome reunites after a 20-year separation at the group’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

When “Oh, What a Night” is reprised late in the show, the lyrics are a fitting end for the entire performance. Performances run through Jan. 8, with a matinee and evening performance on Jan. 7 and 8. (The show is not recommended for children under 12.) Happily for the rest of us, that timeless music is equally authentic.