DETROIT – Oh what a night! The Jersey Boys are back reopening the national tour here in Detroit after a 20-month hiatus.
Briskly telling the story of Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons through their catalog of hits, Jersey Boys brings the classic croons and harmonies to life while exploring the legendary group’s formation, romances and troubles with the law. It’s a rollercoaster of a tale that spans almost 50 years of the band’s history.
Jon Hacker stars as the falsetto-serenading Frankie Valli who brings down the house with his solo rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes of You.” Hacker, who comes directly from the Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, takes audiences on Valli’s journey from wide eyed 16-year-old newbie to fatherhood and all the way to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Hacker’s voice is crystal clear hitting Valli’s high notes with incredible ease, switching effortlessly back and forth between song and book scenes.
Joining Hacker in the Four Seasons is Devon Goffman as Tommy DeVito, Eric Chambliss as Bob Gaudio and Matt Faucher as Nick Massi. Hearing the quartet sing together is a spirited blast to the past. Their harmonies are pitch perfect making every moment that the four are singing together feel truly special. They hit all their high energy moves in perfect synchronization, not one knee out-of-place – Rockettes eat your heart out.
There were, however, some technical issues that kept occurring. Mic cues seemed to be missed several times, which made the audience miss a few lines. There also seemed to be some problem with the spotlight following actors as they walked around the set. It is the production’s first week back, so those are kinks that will hopefully get fixed as they travel from city to city.
Klara Zieglerova’s set design paired with Howell Binkley’s lighting was the most disappointing part of the show. The cold two-tiered industrial set that has been downsized from the original Broadway production felt bare at times with much of the (few) set pieces brought in and out by the actors themselves. Michael Clark’s projections could have been better utilized to provide more scenic atmosphere instead of the goofy comic-style graphics used to move the story from scene-to-scene.
I have never seen any form of Jersey Boys before, nor did I grow up listening to the Four Seasons, but I had a fun time picking out the songs that I was familiar with, not realizing that they were from the Valli and company – especially “Beggin’” which is currently played on the radio covered by Italian rock band Måneskin.
Those familiar with the music will be delighted to hear all the classics including “Walk Like a Man,” “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and so much more. The post-finale mash-up is particularly electrifying.
It has been 16 years since Jersey Boys premiered on Broadway with multiple productions still playing worldwide. It’s no wonder that the tale of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons continues to entertain audiences today. With its classic songs, behind-the-scenes drama and the gritty and mob-driven storyline, Jersey Boys will continue “Working Their Way Back To You.”
Jersey Boys has a 2 hour and 35-minute runtime and plays at the Music Hall through Saturday. For schedule and tickets, visit BroadwayinDetroit.com.