As a preview to JERSEY BOYS’ opening in Memphis next week, GoMemphis.com’s Christopher Blank has a terrific interview with original Four Seasons’ member Bob Gaudio and JB national tour’s “Frankie Valli,” Joseph Leo Bwarie.
It’s no surprise that a few years ago, when it seemed as though every major artist was having their catalogs turned into Broadway shows — Elvis, ABBA, The Beach Boys, John Lennon among them — the two men who controlled The Four Seasons’ canon, lead singer Frankie Valli and songwriter/keyboardist/vocalist Bob Gaudio, were interested.
Unlike those other efforts, which have come to be known as “jukebox musicals,” this one didn’t rely on a story that critics could trash as derivative or cheesy. It was their story, warts and all, as soul-baring as could be depicted in a two-hour show.
“When Frankie and I were in opening night at La Jolla (2004), we both looked at each other at halftime — or intermission — and said, ‘My God, imagine if this gets to Broadway,’ ” said Gaudio during a recent visit to Memphis, his first since he was a teenager. “La Jolla was Beach Boys territory, the worst place you could open a show about The Four Seasons. But they extended it from six weeks to four months. Then we thought, OK, well, if it goes to New York and the critics don’t destroy us, at least we’ll have the bridge and tunnel crowd. The reviews were terrific. Then we won the Tony.”
“It’s an odd feeling watching it,” Gaudio said. “Once the story of our lives became theatricalized, we kind of became fans of what we were seeing. Back then, we were criminals! Well, some of us, at least.”
Read the full interview, along with some fascinating stories behind some of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons’ biggest hits on GoMemphis.com.