May 22, 2009

Rick Elice: Four Seasons Story and Three Miracles

May 22nd, 2009

Rick EliceKristi Casey Sanders of has an interesting interview with Rick Elice, who talks about the beginnings of JERSEY BOYS and its eternal heart.

According to Elice, the show exists because of three miracles that took place between October 2003 and October 2004. The first miracle was that Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio gave Elice and his writing partner Marshall Brickman permission to create a musical based on their lives, using the Four Seasons’ music. The second miracle was that Broadway veteran and then-Artistic Director of the La Jolla Playhouse Des McAnuff committed to the project before one line of dialogue had been written. And the third miracle was that Valli and Gaudio first saw the musical in a theater, surrounded by an enthusiastic audience instead of in a barren rehearsal hall, where they might have been tempted to pull the plug on the whole project.

“The gods of theater were smiling on all of us when we were making this show,” Elice says.

Despite the amount of time Elice spent working on Jersey Boys pre- and post-Broadway, he says he still gets goosebumps watching the show. Seeing the first appearance of three guys at three microphone stands and the ramp-up to the end of the first act still thrills him. But it is a scene in the second act that always puts a lump in his throat.

“When [Bob] Gaudio sort of forces through, against daunting odds, a record Frankie’s recorded that he feels will really help [propel] Frankie on to the next stage of his career … and it turns into a huge success, that part of the rags to riches story is somewhat familiar to us,” Elice says. “But this [act] — something that a friend does for another friend for no reason other than to help his friend — I find to really be at the root of what this show is about.”


  1. I always enjoy “the story behind the story” and this article gives just a liitle more insight into the creation of this masterful piece of theatre. Rick’s favored scene (where a friend helps another friend) makes perfect sense…because he, too, encompasses that characteristic as he reaches out to the friends and fans of Jersey Boys and makes them feel welcome and appreciated. I’ve only seen the show five times, but I still get that first time thrill each time, too!

    Comment by LuluThompson — May 22, 2009 @ 9:14 am

  2. haikrewe three

    one show two writers
    three miracles four seasons
    high five the sixties

    Comment by stubbleyou — May 22, 2009 @ 12:47 pm

  3. “…you take both songs or you don’t get either.” THAT was the line that landed with such impact the first time I saw the show. I’ve always wanted to believe it wasn’t creative license on the part of Rick & Marshall. I’ll take Rick’s comments here as the reassurance I needed.

    In terms of counting miracles… I would add as number four – the willingness of Michael David to bring Dodger on board. After all, these were two guys who had never written a musical – or even written for the theater in general. Add into the equation the curse of a so-called ‘juke box’ musical and the challenges of making even a good show turn a worthwhile profit. With little evidence, Mr. David saw the potential and took the chance. Four Seasons, FOUR miracles.

    I found it very interesting that Frankie & Bob didn’t see a performance until they were sitting with a full audience. There’s such an experiential leap from a written script to a live performance. That was smart – but probably difficult.

    Comment by Audrey — May 25, 2009 @ 11:13 pm


    Comment by Leanna — May 26, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

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