May 19, 2008

Jersey Boys Sparkles at Plush Palazzo

May 19th, 2008

Chad Jones of the Contra Costa Times provides an update about one of the newest resorts in Vegas–The Palazzo, along with a marvelous interview with Jeff Leibow, who stars as Nick Massi in the Vegas production of Jersey Boys!

Jones notes that The Palazzo is a different kind of resort for Las Vegas. For one thing, it’s not themed. It has an Italian name, but the feel inside is one of spacious elegance. There’s no cheesy waterway or attempt to fool people into thinking they’re in Europe. From the hotel lobby, with its towering fountain sculpture and palm trees, you head into the 105,000-square-foot casino, which is strangely quiet. Even full of gamblers and revelers, the large casino floor is calm and civilized.

As its first, and so far only, show, the Palazzo went for one of Broadway’s biggest hits: “Jersey Boys,” the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Bay Area audiences embraced the musical when it opened at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre in December 2006 and ran, with a break of several months, through December of last year.

The final San Francisco cast was rumored to be the one heading for Vegas, and that turned out partly to be true. If you saw any of the three casts that came to San Francisco, you’ll probably recognize someone onstage.

One of those familiar faces belongs to Jeff Leibow, a former Pleasanton resident who has performed with the Willows Theatre Company in Concord, TheatreWorks in Mountain View and the Pleasanton Playhouse in Pleasanton. Leibow is playing Nick Massi, the quietest of the Four Seasons.

Getting cast in “Jersey Boys” was Leibow’s big break. He and his wife, Melody, moved from their most recent Bay Area home in East Palo Alto to the suburbs of Las Vegas. And now Leibow finds himself performing in a brand-new, state-of-the-art 1,700-seat theater at the Palazzo.

“This is the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me,” Leibow says. “I made the leap into a Broadway show from the Bay Area. I’ve only seen a handful of people do that.”

Leibow and his fellow cast members are aware of the fact that other Broadway musicals haven’t fared so well in Vegas, but they say they’re confident “Jersey Boys” will please the desert audience.

“This is different than any show here,” Leibow says. “First of all, Frankie Valli is known in Vegas, and this isn’t just a jukebox musical. It’s more like a play with songs.”

Other Broadway transfers have bowed to Vegas pressure and shortened the show to fit the standard Vegas one-act, 90-minute format. “Jersey Boys” keeps its two-act structure but adds an eight-minute “pause” between acts that barely gives people time to run to the bathroom.

The show keeps all of its musical numbers, but scenes and songs have been artfully shaved to preserve the show’s integrity and to keep the running time close to two hours. Fans — and there are a lot of them — will be happy to know that centerpiece songs such as “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man” and the show-stopping “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” are exactly as we saw them in the Bay Area.

So far, the fact that “Jersey Boys” is a little different from other Vegas fare has proved to be an asset. Audiences are going nuts in all the right places.

“We hope to be here a good long time,” Leibow says. “But this is Vegas. You never know. Things seem to change here pretty fast.”


  1. These amazing four guys, Erich Bergen, Jeff Leibow, Jeremy Kushnier and Rick Faugno, all have stories to tell of their own…how they got to were they are today. You four are brilliant,funny,kind,and I love to hear,them telling their own little stories.

    Comment by Kathy J — May 19, 2008 @ 3:38 pm

  2. What can I say! I love this cast! IE

    Comment by irene eizen — May 19, 2008 @ 10:30 pm

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