July 8, 2008

No More Smoking for Jersey Boys in Chicago

July 8th, 2008

You will no longer be seeing the Chicago Jersey Boys lighting up on stage.

According to Chicago Sun-Times City Hall Reporter Fran Spielman, when they weren’t breaking the law or going in and out of jail, the Jersey Boys who went on to become the Four Seasons were hanging out on street corners singing with cigarettes dangling from their mouths. Not in Chicago. Here, lead singer Frankie Valli, song-writing sensation Bob Gaudio and the boys have gone cold turkey.

Spielman notes that following an apparent complaint from an irate theatergoer, the Chicago theatrical production of “Jersey Boys” has snuffed out cigarettes. Never mind that smoking in the ’50′s and ’60′s was about as prevalent as a thug on a Jersey street corner. Chicago’s smoking ban comes first.

“When you take it out of the production, you’re changing history. If you want to be true to the times, you’ll allow them to smoke on stage. To do otherwise is like blue laws in the Puritan times,” said Ald. Bernard Stone (50th), a former part-time actor who favors an exemption in the city’s smoking ban for live theater.


  1. That goes to show how much weight one “irate theatergoer” can pull. It’s “a sign” of the times, unfortunately.

    Comment by Catherine — July 8, 2008 @ 9:05 am

  2. Absolutely the smoking should be left in the show. I agree that to be true to the times and the characters, the smoking on stage is part of the atmosphere in Jersey Boys very much a part of some of the characters as well. The actors, and anyone else associated with the show, are not promoting smoking, they’re simply portraying the reality of the times.

    Comment by WANDA — July 8, 2008 @ 9:12 am

  3. Oh talk about overkill! Of course the smoking should be left in the show. It is not as if they are smoking the entire time and it definitely does not bother the audience. Also, how about explaining to younger folks that it is really a period piece. Boy would the movies Goodfellas, the Godfather and Casino look funny with the smoking. I wish they wouldn’t have caved in on this.

    Comment by GLADYS MARLIN — July 8, 2008 @ 10:01 am

  4. At places like Sea World, they warn you that if you sit in the first ten rows of the dolphin or whale shows, you are in the “splash zone” and you might get wet. You make a choice. Wouldn’r something like that suffice here? I don’t think you can smell the smoke unless you’re way up front.

    Comment by stubbleyou — July 8, 2008 @ 10:02 am

  5. Perhaps this person doesn’t get out much to see Tony Award winning Shows. May I suggest this person go and see something more their taste like, LITTLE MERMAID,

    Comment by Jody — July 8, 2008 @ 11:23 am

  6. This is absolutely ridiculous! The only people who it really affects are the actors, so if they are okay with it, that’s all that matters! I totally agree with that sea world comment! I love Drew Gehling!

    Comment by Carol R — July 8, 2008 @ 11:26 am

  7. Wouldn’t it just have been easier to refund the patron’s money, tell them to shut the hell up and never come back?

    Comment by Gary — July 8, 2008 @ 11:52 am

  8. Wait a minute. Isn’t the “use of herbal cigarettes” listed on the placard before one enters the theater along with “gun shots, strobe lights and authentic Jersey vocabulary?” This theatergoer had the option to decline based on that alone. This gives the show release of liability. They still allow cigarette smoking in restaurants and bars in Chicago. Why the fuss? I say we call Gyp and have him take care of it.

    Comment by Gary — July 8, 2008 @ 12:10 pm

  9. This ban is ridiculous!! The few smoking scenes are one of many accurate period details that makes Jersey Boys so authentic. What’s next; cutting out certain dialogue or skimpy costumes that someone finds offensive?! People have a choice when they go to the theatre. It’s a shame that the Chicago producers chose to compromise the show because ‘an irate theatregoer’ complained.

    Comment by Pamela — July 8, 2008 @ 1:12 pm

  10. Pam & Gary, You are both so right!!! The theatergoer always has a choice and everything they should be aware of IS posted before one enters the theatre. This is totally beyond ridiculous!!!! I can’t believe the authenticity of the show is being compromised because of this person!!!

    Comment by WANDA — July 8, 2008 @ 2:32 pm

  11. I’m surprised the irate theatergoer didn’t complain about how many times the word F**K is used and why they say it to begin with!!! :)

    Comment by Joey — July 8, 2008 @ 3:06 pm

  12. I just saw this on the news………..I am completely against it. First of all, to me it takes away the reality of the show. When I went to see JB, no one was bothered by the cigarette smoke. I doubt if it even reached the audience. This is a bit much, don’t you think Chicago? Obviously the smoking part hasn’t bothered theatergoers all this time, so why should it now? It doesn’t.

    Comment by Beth L. — July 8, 2008 @ 10:34 pm

  13. PS First they ban smoking. Next, they’ll be banning the language!

    Comment by Beth L. — July 8, 2008 @ 10:35 pm

  14. PS to Gary: The last time I saw the show, the word profane was added to that warning, reading “authentic profane Jersey vocabulary.”

    Comment by stubbleyou — July 8, 2008 @ 10:40 pm

  15. Funny that it’s the smoking that caused someone to become irate. The constant use of the F-word has made many people uncomfortable and the show not great for children. Same for the CD. I know many people who love the music and the show, but, because of the language, won’t let their children and grandchildren listen to the CD.

    Comment by L — July 9, 2008 @ 5:58 am

  16. I can not believe that one patron complaining was the reason to ban smoking during the play. Ask anyone growing up in the 50′s and they will tell you that the portrayal of the Four Seasons is Jersey Boys is so very authentic and smoking was really so prominent then among teens that it adds to the real true story.
    I have seen Jersey Boys more than six times in NYC and it would never occur to me that the smoking in some scenes would be offensive to anyone. Oh well, maybe they will reconsider and warn the people who will be sitting in front about the possible smell from smoke and change their mind.

    How sad.


    Comment by viv — July 9, 2008 @ 7:11 am

  17. Alderman Brendan Reilly from the 42nd Ward was interviewed on Fox News today. An ammendment to allow for an exception covering cigarettes in theatrical productions is being introduced today and voted on in about a month.

    It was nice to see the clips of the show and Reilly went on to say how incredibly popular the show is in Chicago.

    Comment by Audrey — July 9, 2008 @ 11:59 am

  18. I don’t care what anybody says – Michelle Knight, Lindsey Cole, and Alayna Gallo are smokin’ and there’s nothin’ any politician can do about that!!

    Comment by stubbleyou — July 9, 2008 @ 8:44 pm

  19. How ridiculous! I agree – call Gyp. Smoking is a small part of the production, but one important to the period piece. I do believe that herbal cigarettes are just fine. What is the harm? To the complainant – If you are so “offended” stay home. I am not an advocate of smoking, however, I’ve seen the production four times and “smoke” has never been an issue for the the audience.

    Comment by Mary Ann — July 9, 2008 @ 10:27 pm

  20. I saw it in Houston 6 times and then in London. I was close to the stage at all times and never smelled the smoke. This is definitely not fair to any shows that are period related.

    Comment by GLADYS MARLIN — July 10, 2008 @ 9:59 am

  21. wow,I’m going up to NY in Sept.to see the show and after hearing this about the smoking I hope they don’t put a ban on people on oxygen being in there.What will they change next???

    Comment by Betsy — July 10, 2008 @ 10:30 am

  22. The actors were not forced to take their roles – it was at their discretion. The patrons are not forced to attend the play – it is at their discretion. Changing the story (and history) should be discretionary, too – at the discretion of the authors, not pathetic, weenie politicians. It seemed okay until a whiner, who probably makes a political contribution to some small-pocket goon, decided to crab. Waaa…

    It is clearly posted that smoking and language are part of the story. If you don’t like it, don’t go, get your money back, go home, whatever. But, please don’t be a history spoiler under the guise of a “do-gooder”. Changing history to fit some “cause du jour” changes history and the last time I checked, we live in a real world, not a homogenized fairy tale world. Don’t turn the arts into a puppet show.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

    Comment by Mary — July 10, 2008 @ 12:53 pm

  23. It is a new law — not something one patron had control over. If people don’t like this law they need to change it. One news article said they can’t even smoke as part of a film scene. No other state has a law that strict. It might be bad for business. It could change if they think about that.

    Comment by RobertJ. — July 10, 2008 @ 5:21 pm

  24. I can’t wait to hear about the next tour that decides not to play Second City because of this.

    Comment by Leanna — July 10, 2008 @ 9:31 pm

  25. I can’t believe this! I always thought Chicago was a place, like New York. They let one person decide this ban on smoking in Jersey Boys? I’m shocked!I sat 3rd row center,I saw the sweat on the actors faces, thats how close I was. I had just stopped smoking only a month before I saw the show and I never smelled any smoke.I was so into the show I wasn’t thinking about them smoking. What next Mary Delgado saying; “Golly Gee Frankie ,if they don’t like it they can go suck an egg “.Thea,NY

    Comment by THEA — July 12, 2008 @ 3:43 pm

  26. I added a comment to Chris Jones’ colum in the Tribune regarding this absurdity – one of many! How come this person or the news have not mentioned this person’s name? I’ve seen JB six times – twice in NY, the opening in LV and 3 times here in Chicago and alwyas had basically orchestra seats. I suggested a petition be brought forth to the Chicago City Council and also asked if the Mayor could step in. They drove away businesses and soon they’ll be driving away Chicago theater-goers. I plan on seeing JV over and over agin, but if they start taking scenes out like Las Vegas did, well, I guess I’ll just have to go back to NY. How sad is that? New York has a ban too, but they didn’t take it out of the show. Wake up Chicago!

    Comment by Mitzi — July 13, 2008 @ 7:53 am

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