April 15, 2010

Des McAnuff and the Making of Jersey Boys

April 15th, 2010

Jersey Boys LogoArtVoice.com’s Anthony Chase has posted an interesting interview with JERSEY BOYS director Des McAnuff, who talks about the making of a hit show.

When Des McAnuff was first asked to direct Jersey Boys, he said, “No thanks.” The original treatment was a fictionalized story that sentimentalized the lives of Frankie Valli and the New Jersey-based singing group, the Four Seasons. It was a very traditional musical that made use of the group’s hit songs, and a Greek chorus of Jersey Girls. It all seemed very false, and McAnuff wasn’t interested at all.

McAnuff’s interest in the Four Seasons also goes back a long way.

“When my family moved to Toronto, I was allowed to buy a record album to console me for the loss of my old neighborhood and for moving away from my friends. I bought Sherry and 11 Other Songs. I loved the music.”

This long-standing awareness of the group informed McAnuff’s sense of what Jersey Boys should be like.

“While the Four Seasons’ songs tend to be quite innocent, I knew that their story couldn’t be. There is a rough rock-and-roll edge to it. They suffered loss and conflict and run-ins with the law. I said that to Rick and Marshall. The first treatment also ignored the fact that the Four Seasons’ story can be told from the four distinct viewpoints. I told them that the show should have an unconventional narrative structure.

“I didn’t dictate how they should accomplish all that. But they took my suggestions, went away, and made them their own. That’s what makes a good collaboration. Their new treatment really blew my socks off. It was edgy; it was surprising. They wrote a terrific script. It tells the real story behind the success of the group.”

From the beginning, McAnuff suspected he had an unusual hit on his hands.

Visit ArtVoice.com to read the full interview.

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