Soooo, I saw the show in Vegas on Tuesday night. A cast member later said he wanted a "full report," and I have no idea if he was joking and/or reads the board, but here it is. ;-) I purposefully didn't read any other reviews on this board as soon as I knew I was going, so apologies if any of the stuff about cuts or sets has already been stated.
I have to preface this with saying that most of the audience probably didn't think anything was changed. 99% of the laughs were there and they were big and hearty laughs at that. All the gasps you want to hear at "Pesci, that Joe Pesci" and "Half a mil" were there. The applause after all the big songs was huge. (This is from the perspective of someone who's now seen the show almost as many times as years she's been alive. ;-) There you go...)
So. The most jarring part of this production is not the cast combination and not even the cuts as a whole. It's that Act 1 feels completely different from Act 2 -- mostly because Tommy and Bob have lost the most dialogue. When I say lost, I mean lost.
I don't know if it's most noticeable because Jeremy Kushnier was always so great with the pauses and pacing of his dialogue and now he's rushing through it so fast that the nuances are not there anymore. Erich Bergen is talking so fast he lost a few jokes.
In contrast, Nick's dialogue is probably 90% intact and Frankie's isn't far off from that either. And because of this, Act 2 is more relaxed and feels more like the show I remember.
I'm not sure if this is noticeable to a newbie. Probably not. But when Tommy and Bob are speeding through it and Nick and Frankie are speaking at a normal pace? There's a really big difference. (I'd like to see the Vegas production's understudies just to see how the timing is changed, if at all.)
I kept thinking about what a friend of mine said when he first saw the show. He liked it, but also said he felt like he was "being hammered with information," especially in Act 1. I told him I could see where he was coming from. With this version, I knew where he was coming from.
Of course, they're still in previews and things can change and blah blah blah...
No one has really changed all that much from how I remember them, so I don't think I have much to say here.
Erich is definitely dryer and more droll. It's a big change when you saw the bouncy and bubbly Andrew Rannells 5 times, but it's still fun. I don't think a more subtle Bob works as well from the back mezzanine as it would up front, but until Vegas starts doing rush or I win a contest, I don't think I'll be seeing Erich that close up anytime soon. ;-)
(I'm not sure what was up with his weird Spiderman-like crawling on the catwalk during "Oh, What a Night," though. Stalker Bob?)
Rick Faugno was in fine form with that loud, strong falsetto and the best dancing I've seen with any Frankie. Luckily I'd found my binoculars during intermission -- I mean, break -- so I was able to watch him during "Fallen Angel," which was pretty much heartbreaking.
Jeremy was coughing through the beginning of Act 1 (trying to hide it, more or less successfully). Aww! He sounded raspier than usual, but his Tommy voice is always raspy, so maybe that meant less work for him. ;-) I do hope he's feeling better now, though.
Jeff Leibow remains my favorite Nick. I had never heard the "Uncle Nick" monologue delivered so sadly, and he really did look like he was going to have a nervous breakdown in the scene when he leaves the group. Jeff's bass notes sounded a lot stronger than in SF, too.
Joyce Chittick is so much fun as Mary. I really like how she changed one of the argument scenes -- when she said "I wouldn't wanna cramp your style," she pointed at Frankie's crotch. Oh snap.
John Salvatore is on as Bob Crewe while John Altieri recuperates, and I liked him. I did think he was approaching caricature (I mean, not that Crewe isn't an over-the-top character anyway), but after his first scene, things had settled down. He's just as physically flail-y as John Altieri but as bitchy as Craig Laurie. Ha! I did really like the way he stuck his arm out after "It's a METAPHOR!" as if to say, "Well, DUH."
I mourn most of all the cuts to Kristofer McNeeley's track! No surprise that I love Hank Majewski and Mika equally. ;-) They've cut "rob a bank," which is his big moment early on, and Crewe's "don't get me started," so Kristofer doesn't get to press his hand to his chest and look as flamey as before. He also doesn't check out the guys' butts anymore. So sad, so sad. On the plus side, when Hank says, "HEYYYYYYY!" he makes a gun hand and then mimes blowing on the barrel. I almost cried laughing.
It's the same set that was at the Curran, but with some Broadway changes/additions -- the Brill building doors come out of the floor, the "Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons" sign is one line, horizontal instead of two lines stacked, and Bob goes downstairs with his ho -- uh, party girl -- instead of upstairs. The screens for the Ed Sullivan show and American Bandstand are more like the Sherry tour in that they really match the actual footage in terms of color and degradation.
The sound system at the Palazzo is fantastic. I was in the rear mezzanine, and hearing things I had never heard before (not just because I rushed 90% of the time). Crickets during the "you're gonna lend me the Plymouth?!" scene, different instruments, really clear car sound effects, echo effects that did not render the dialogue or lyrics fuzzy... it was nice. Occasionally the percussion seemed over-mic'd, especially during "Oh, What a Night" and "C'mon, Marianne," but maybe this is something that'll get ironed out later on.
I did enjoy the show, and I'd like to go again later on when the cuts are finalized and this cast has settled in a little more. The theatre is perfectly designed for this show. Here's to a good run. :)