June 16, 2006

More Tony Recaps from New York & La Jolla

June 16th, 2006

New York Post’s Michael Riedel said the jukebox musical lives. By bestowing the Tony Award for Best Musical on Jersey Boys, Broadway certified that shows built around old baby-boomer favorites – in this case, the songs of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – are here to stay.

So discredited was the form that last summer, when it was announced that Jersey Boys was coming to New York, theater insiders sneered: “Oh, no, not another one of those losers.”

Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, who wrote the book to the show – which, in VH1 “Behind the Music” fashion, tells the back story of The Four Seasons – admitted that raising money for Jersey Boys was difficult. Nobody, it seemed, wanted to be associated with yet another dreaded jukebox musical.

And yet, from the very first preview, it was apparent that something exciting was happening at the August Wilson Theatre. Baby-boomer audiences not only were dancing in the aisles to such favorites as “Sherry,” “Oh, What a Night” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” they were also emotionally absorbed in the tale of working-class guys from New Jersey clawing their way up the showbiz ladder.

Adding much to the show’s emotional impact was the performance of John Lloyd Young as Valli. Young, a Broadway newcomer, was awarded the Tony last night for Best Actor in a Musical. His co-star Christian Hoff picked up the award for Best Supporting Actor – a surprise win, and one that demonstrated how much Tony voters approved of Jersey Boys.

Audiences do, too – the show grosses $1 million a week and is on track to be one of the most successful musicals of all time.

Union-Tribune arts writer James Herbert said that after the best-musical win was announced on Sunday night, La Jolla Playhouse associate artistic director Shirley Fishman exclaimed, “Oh my God, just total surprise and joy!” After talking about how difficult it is to create a new musical and added,

“We love our ‘Jersey Boys’ – and now so does the rest of the world.”

The Playhouse-launched Jersey Boys played a monster of a sleeper to The Drowsy Chaperone at the Tony Awards, nabbing best musical and other key awards against its more nominated musical rival.

Directed by Playhouse artistic director Des McAnuff and launched at the theater in October 2004, Jersey Boys scored four awards (out of eight nominations) at the annual theater honors in New York.

An emotional Christian Hoff, who won for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical, thanked McAnuff, his late dad and Tommy DeVito, whom he has played in Jersey Boys since the show opened in La Jolla.

John Lloyd Young, who won the Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, had joined Jersey Boys for its Broadway run. He told of how his mother died when he was very young, and he thanked his father, an Air Force officer, for raising him and putting up with his acting dreams.

Playhouse staffers and supporters in La Jolla took in the ceremony via a big-screen TV at a party in the theater’s Play Development Center. The Jersey Boys wins sparked increasingly spirited standing ovations among the Playhouse crowd, which until Hoff’s win had no trophies to celebrate except Howell Binkley’s award for lighting design (a win announced with other technical-achievement trophies before the CBS telecast began).

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. | TrackBack URI

Please leave a comment