February 10, 2008

Jersey Boys–Is It a Man’s Musical?

February 10th, 2008

Jersey Boys’ stories are ubiquitous in the Florida press today. SPTimes.com Performing Arts Critic John Fleming has an in-depth feature that includes interviews with Bob Gaudio, writer Marshall Brickman, musical director Ron Melrose, and JB national tour member Andrew Rannells!

It all started with “The Deer Hunter.” There’s a scene in the 1978 movie in which some young steelworkers go to a bar just before three of them ship out for Vietnam. While shooting pool, they sing along with a song on the radio, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Frankie Valli. It’s an episode of male bonding that perfectly portrays these guys in a gritty Pennsylvania town.

“That’s something that stayed with me,” said Bob Gaudio, who wrote the song and was a founding member of the Four Seasons with Valli. “Seeing my song in a moment that had so much more strength than what it was conceived to be was an epiphany for me.”

The Seasons remained a force on the charts into the 1970s, with consummate hits Who Loves You and December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night), and Valli was always a headliner on his own, but the group never achieved the legendary status of the Beatles or the Beach Boys. That changed when Gaudio and Valli met with a pair of writers in search of a project, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, for a long lunch at Sardi’s.

“After the second or third glass of wine they started to tell us about their lives growing up in New Jersey, and it was amazing stuff,” said Brickman, best known for his work as a screenwriter on Woody Allen movies, including Sleeper, Annie Hall and Manhattan. “They were all mobbed up, used to go numbers running and be arrested in the middle of a set at some club. And we said, ‘Well, if you let us do that – let us tell your real story – we’ll do it.”‘

Brickman makes the observation that the point of view of Four Seasons songs tends to be that of “guys singing to guys about girls,” as opposed to the early songs of the Beach Boys and Beatles, which are more about guys singing to girls.

As a result, perhaps, Jersey Boys is the rare musical that may be more popular with men than women. “Wives drag their husbands to see this show the first time, and then the husbands are the ones who want to come back and see it again,” said Andrew Rannells, who plays Gaudio on the tour. “It’s something that I haven’t ever really seen in musical theater.”


  1. If you loved Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – this is a must. I walked out of the musical wanting to go straight to the box office and buy another ticket. My 12 year old daughter is now a Frankie Valli fan, I have been one since the 70′s and my mother goes back even further than that. This group has spanned 3 generations in my family.

    Definitely go see this Broadway show if you get a chance. I saw the Broadway Across America show and will definitely plan to see it in New York if I get a chance.


    Comment by susan wilson — February 11, 2008 @ 5:33 pm

  2. You’re not from around here, are you? ;-)

    (I only say that ‘cos most around here most share that sentiment already…given how you feel, you’ll find a lot of fun stuff to read here.)

    Comment by stubbleyou — February 11, 2008 @ 10:17 pm

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