April 12, 2009

Jersey Boys Sizzles in South Florida!

April 12th, 2009

South Florida theatre critics continue to sing the praises of JERSEY BOYS in Fort Lauderdale! Check out the latest from South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Palm Beach Arts Paper:

Rod Hagwood, SunSentinel.com: The Tony-winning musical is a handsome package of hip-swerving choreography, sharkskin suits and an amorphous set that is a bowling alley one moment and the set of “American Bandstand” the next.

Remarkably cinematic; there are close-ups, montages, backstage perspectives, silhouettes, pop art projections, live video all crisply unfolding like a multimedia scrap album. Ed Sullivan is channeled. Twice.

But all that couldn’t hold out attention for even a “Short Shorts” moment if not for the cast at the top of their vocal game – harmonies so tight they just may be soldered. You can see triumph in their eyes as they occasionally deflect the audience’s thunderous applause – our applause – turning it into something for their characters to play off of, their reaction pulling us into the show craftily, slickly, completely.

Hap Erstein: Palm Beach Arts Paper: As genres go, the jukebox musical rarely gets much respect. A distinct exception is Jersey Boys, the 2006 Best Musical Tony winner, an involving “behind the music” biography of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, motored by over two dozen of their song hits. The show, now making its South Florida debut at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale, is a model of how it should be done, thanks to a fast-moving, Jersey joke-laden narrative by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, a first-rate cast led by Joseph Leo Bwarie as Valli and those nostalgia-laden songs written by Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe.

Two-time Tony-winning director Des McAnuff stages the production crisply on and around Klara Zieglerova’s Erector Set set. Choreographer Sergio Trujillo handles the precision movement routines that complement the group’s song stylings.

Care was taken on all fronts putting Jersey Boys on tour. While its production elements are up to Broadway standards, the show was always about the performers and the music. The creative team demonstrated that “jukebox musical” does not have to be a pejorative term, but we can still hope that other bio-shows about bygone singing groups do not follow.

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