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Concert Reviews:
"Jersey Boys" is still oh, what a night at Music Hall Center
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Saturday, May 18, 2019

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At the end of "Jersey Boys," the actor portraying Frankie Valli muses that the best times for he and the rest of the Four Seasons was at the beginning, when they were "just four guys singing under a street lamp. It was just the music, and everything else fell away."



And that's pretty much why "Jersey Boys" -- including this weekend's production at Detroit's Music Hall Center -- is still a potent and enjoyable show 15 years on.



At this juncture the Tony Award-winning musical's details about the group's Hall of Fame-caliber history are no longer as revelatory; We know all about the personality dynamics, the mob connections, the debilitating debts accrued by Tommy DeVito, the crushing death of Valli's youngest daughter. The tale has begun to feel as old as time, but "Jersey Boys" continues to sing thanks to, well, songs -- primarily hits from the quartet's catalog -- and how well they're performed by the cast.



With a body of music this strong it's hard to fall short, and the current touring company is solid from start to finish. Refreshingly restrained and free of histrionics, the compact and nimble crew of actors and musicians, some -- particularly Todd DuBail, Rick Desloge, Kevin Patrick Martin and Jenna Nicole Schoen -- playing multiple parts, gets the job done in fine fashion, convincingly navigating a story whose mostly happy ending is tempered by some dark edges.



The chemistry of these Four Seasons gives the production its strong foundation, as they deliver their lines with whip-mart precision and break the fourth wall to address the crowd with an offhanded ease. Jonny Wexler, as Valli, shines throughout, with a pristine falsetto that turns performances of "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man," "Let's Hang On! (To What We've Got)" and, of course, "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" into showstoppers. Royal Oak-born Eric Chambliss plays Bob Gaudio, the group's creative mastermind, with a quiet kind of assurance, while Jonathan Cable balances deadpan and stoic as Nick Massi and Corey Greenan never loses DeVito's Jersey cockiness, even as the character is ostracized from the group he founded.



The production's two-level staging, meanwhile, is a model of minimalist efficiency, choreographed to move set pieces on and off without much drama while a video screen provides a sense of place throughout the show. And it's still as much fun to "watch" the Four Seasons' performances on "American Bandstand" and "The Ed Sullivan Show" simultaneously on screen and on stage.



It may be less of an Event than it was its first couple of times through, but "Jersey Boys" still makes for quite a night. Think of it as a stage equivalent of old friends whose welcome doesn't wear out, even if they're telling the same well-worn stories.



"Jersey Boys" plays Friday through Sunday, May 17-19, at the Music Hall Center, 350 Madison Ave., Detroit. $30-$120 at 313-887-8500 or broadwayindetroit.com.

Web Site: www.broadwayindetroit.com.

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