October 19, 2008

Clevelander Loves JB in Toronto!

October 19th, 2008

Jim Collins of News-Herald.com is my kind of critic and Jersey Boys fan! Even though he’s a Cleveland reporter who has seen Jersey Boys in old Ohio, he drove 5.5 hours to see JB in Toronto!

Here’s a recap of Collins’ Toronto experience:
“Outstanding!” “Terrific!” “Best musical I’ve ever seen!”

I always listen to comments from the crowd as it pushes its way out when I leave a theater after a stunning performance, and those were the rave reviews we were hearing the other evening as we left the fabulous musical show “Jersey Boys.”

Too bad the show was over, we thought. We could have taken a lot more. It was simply a power-packed evening that lit up the entire audience and put a smile on every face in the sold-out house.

The house, in this instance, was the Toronto Centre for the Arts, which has the best acoustics I have ever experienced anywhere – Cleveland, New York City or you name it.

I know what you’re thinking – why would anyone drive 5 1/2 hours to see a musical in Toronto when you could have driven 25 minutes to see “Jersey Boys” in Cleveland?

Because, silly, the difference between Toronto and Cleveland is, well, trust me, there’s a difference.

The show, winner of the 2006 Best Musical Tony Award and the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album, is the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, one of the all time great musical groups and one of only two (the other was the Beach Boys) that survived the invasion from England of the Beatles.

The cast that portrayed Frankie Valli, Nick Massi, Tommy DeVito and Bob Gaudio (do you detect a commonality of ethnic background here?) was exceptional. By the way, Valli’s birth name was Francis Castelluccio, and he’s still going strong after all these years.

The boys from Jersey sang the group’s greatest hits, including “Sherry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes off of You,” “My Eyes Adored You” and “Working My Way Back to You.”

The only personal favorite left out was “Swearin’ to God,” but what the heck – if they included all of the group’s hits we would have been there all night. The program even listed 19 huge hits they didn’t have room for.

I never saw a more enthusiastic audience. I mean, the well-mannered crowd was elevated to new levels of craziness in roaring its approval of the performance.

The producers, dancap Productions, has extended the show through Nov. 9, and if you’d really like to go – and you don’t mind a short drive – I would recommend it highly. You can Google “Jersey Boys” and find out all you need to know about ordering tickets.

I got to thinking afterward where I would rank “Jersey Boys” among my all-time favorite musicals for sheer entertainment and pure fun.

Well, let’s see. There’s “My Fair Lady,” and “Most Happy Fella” and “Bells Are Ringing.”

And “West Side Story.”

But “Jersey Boys” is right up there with the best of them. And don’t tell anyone, but I liked it better than “Phantom of the Opera.” Just a personal preference.

Now, nobody drives that far just to see a show. You do other things – like shop, dine and check out the tourist attractions.

And you don’t drive home at 11 o’clock at night after a show. So you stay over for a night or two – or three.

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