September 29, 2010

Marshall Brickman & the Jersey Boys Story

September 29th, 2010

Chuck Darrow of the Philadelphia Daily News has a terrific in-depth interview with JERSEY BOYS co-writer Marshall Brickman. Here’s a preview:

As co-author of “Jersey Boys,” the Tony-winning musical about 1960s pop-rock princes Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, he’s partly responsible for one of the biggest musical-theater hits of the early 21st century. But to hear him tell it, conjuring a theatrical smash was never on his to-do list.

“Growing up, Broadway was the thing you went down in order to get to Greenwich Village,” said the 69-year-old Brickman, perhaps best-known as Woody Allen’s fellow 1977 Oscar winner for their “Annie Hall” script.

Brickman said his involvement with “Jersey Boys,” which opens a 10-week run tomorrow at the Forrest Theatre, was, in standard showbiz fashion, simply a function of luck and timing.

“I was drafted into this thing [in early 2004] by my co-writer, Rick Elice,” Brickman explained during a recent phone call. “Somebody contacted him on behalf of the Four Seasons. We had been looking for something to do together.”

He added that when Elice invoked the Four Seasons, “I did the Vivaldi joke,” a reference to the 18th-century Italian composer whose themed collection of violin concertos, “The Four Seasons,” is a Baroque-era masterpiece.

As a one-time folk-music artist whose collaborators included a pre-Mamas & the Papas John and Michelle Phillips, Brickman said he “wasn’t really acquainted” with Valli’s Four Seasons. But once he delved into their catalog, “it knocked me over.”

The next step for the two writers was a meeting with Valli and Bob Gaudio, the keyboardist who composed (often with lyricist Bob Crewe) and produced the group’s incredible canon of early-’60s hits, including “Sherry,” “Dawn,” “Ronnie,” “Rag Doll,” “Walk Like a Man” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”

The sit-down, Brickman remembered, included enough wine to get all the parties to the point that “everyone started loosening up and talking about what it was like growing up in Jersey.” (Brickman grew up in Brooklyn.)

Brickman’s takeaway from the powwow was that “the group was never really certified by the rock intelligentsia, never interviewed by Rolling Stone.”

Brickman and Elice discovered a compelling, if obscure, tale of friendship, betrayal, gangsters, sex and, most important, some of the most beloved music of a generation defined by its rock ‘n’ roll. “We told them, ‘If you let us tell your story, warts and all, this could be a home run – or at least a triple,’ ” Brickman said.

Visit to read the full interview.

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