December 5, 2007

Jersey Boys–A BIG Hit in the Windy City!

December 5th, 2007

By Lauren Avila, Jersey Boys Blog Special Correspondent

“Fabulous!” “One hit after another!” “Boy, can they really sing!” “The singing is incredible!” “Their voices are unreal!”

No, those quotes are not from the endless critical acclaim in Chicago media. These reviews are direct from audience members’ mouths during intermission at the LaSalle Bank Theatre. Opening two months ago, Jersey Boys has become one of the hottest theatre tickets in town. Having been extended twice already and breaking box office records, the company is settling comfortably into the Broadway In Chicago series.

The audience for the November 30th show in Chicago witnessed a splendid performance from the cast, including two swings: John Hickman as Nick Massi and John Michael Coppola as Joey (and others). Jeremy Kushnier starring as Tommy DeVito absorbed the crowd with his addicting narration. Showcasing potent vocals and total control over his character’s material, Jeremy immediately grasped attention and held it throughout the entire show. Drew Gehling as Bob Gaudio far exceeds script and sheet music with his natural talent. To say he wowed the audience with his prominent singing voice and exquisite acting would be a significant understatement. John Hickman as Nick Massi was quite the treat. Playing a compulsive Nick with wonderful singing and agreeable acting, it’s hard to believe he’s an understudy for the character. Jarrod Spector as Frankie Valli is undeniably perfect. His performance was brilliantly powerful with his angelic falsetto and poignant acting. An emotional revelation of theater at its best.

As amazing as the four leads are, the cast is not complete without the rest of the incredible group of actors. Craig Laurie was a knock-out as Bob Crewe. He received infinite laughter and praise for his piece including unforgettable moments such as “Look Miss Congeniality, it’s a metaphor.” The audience fell hard for Jenny Lee Stern’s portrayal of Mary Delgado. Everything from her comedy to her drama was successful. John Michael Coppola was irresistible as Joe Pesci. Steven M. Goldsmith went on in the track for the matinee the following day and was spectacular. That same matinee was Jake Speck’s interpretation of Nick Massi. He was great! His bass solos were smoothly delivered and his dialogue was absolutely marvelous. He wore the part of a rock star while maintaining a charming vulnerability.

Jonathan Weir as Gyp DeCarlo was just right. It’s difficult to pinpoint what makes an actor so suitable for his character, but it is definitely the case here. He owns the drama and intensity of Gyp (and others.) The same can be said for Dominic Bogart, who plays the part of Norman Waxman. A mention must go out to his Stosh and Charlie Calello as well. It’s safe to say that Rashad Naylor was a crowd favorite playing Barry Belson, a comical Cleveland cop, and Davis, just to name a few hit characters. Ryan Quinn West as Hank Majewski, Joe Long, and others was superb. Along with Ryan as a talented musician, Mike Erickson on drums and in the Hal Miller track was fantastic. Lyndsey Cole played an astounding spectrum from hilarious Jersey girls to Frankie’s rebellious daughter, Francine. Never losing an ounce of energy, Lauren Marshall in the Lorraine track was dazzling.

The Chicago cast is participating in efforts to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. In doing this, Drew Gehling addressed the crowd and informed them about the cause and their fundraising. Jeremy Kushnier was the auctioneer for priceless items up for bid. Jarrod Spector and Jenny Lee Stern also helped in this. Between the evening show on November 30th and the matinee on December 1st, the auction raised at least $9,200! That isn’t counting the items sold later and the donations collected by cast members in the lobby. Craig Laurie, Jonathan Weir, and Steven M. Goldsmith collected after these shows. Congratulations to the JB Chicago Company for their unbelievable contributions to the cause.

So how are they doing? The cast seem to be enjoying their time in Chicago and the city is loving the cast in return. They stated how they had a magnificent Opening Night including three standing ovations, terrific reviews, and the dynamic duo Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio. I had the pleasure of talking to Chicago native Lauren Marshall, who’s thrilled to be home and is doing very well. From what I gather, they’re all focused and optimistic about what the future holds. Some surprises? Perhaps. Some success? Absolutely! Best of luck to the entire company.

Endless thanks to Jersey Boys Blog. Thank you to the Chicago Company for everything! Special thanks to Gary for a wonderful night.


  1. This is a fabulous review, Lauren. I feel like I not only know the cast, but have just seen the show, too! Thanks for sharing the Chicago experience with us.

    Comment by Catherine — December 6, 2007 @ 7:07 pm

  2. So it looks like just about anyone can be a correspondent based on how you wrote.

    Is a review really review when everything’s glowing glowing glowing? I mean, as much as I love this cast to pieces, there still has got to be some rocky aspects to it. Seriously, all you have written are GLOWING, RAVING “reviews”. You sound kind of like a suck-up/fangirl.

    Comment by KL — December 7, 2007 @ 12:58 am

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