August 31, 2009

Reflections on Jersey Boys from Gaudio and Elice

August 31st, 2009

Jersey Boys Logo As reported earlier, Bob Gaudio and Rick Elice were in Toronto last week for the first-anniversary gala performance of JERSEY BOYS!

Robert Cushman chatted with Gaudio and Elice about creating JERSEY BOYS and the show’s worldwide success.

According to Gaudio, the show is to be believed. “I was a more than reluctant performer. Who says you have to go out on the road and perform?” Beyond that, Jersey Boys isn’t some outsiders’ attempt to cash in on the fame and music of a legendary group. “It was homegrown; it was our idea,” More specifically, it was the idea of the two most iconic of the original Seasons: Gaudio himself and lead singer and falsetto extraordinaire Frankie Valli. They had had “lots of TV offers,” but the theatre beckoned, certainly for Gaudio himself: “Frankie and I thought, ‘If we do a TV movie, it’s a quick run and then it’s over; we’ll give the theatre a shot.’ So we started to go back, to open doors.”

Rick Elice, one of the two men who crafted it, walked into the bar and joined the conversation. Gaudio, in his sixties, is tall, quiet-spoken and rather scholarly. Elice, decades younger, is far more Manhattan and considerably more flamboyant. But he corroborated Gaudio. “We couldn’t do Mamma Mia! Someone had already done Mamma Mia!. I thought I could do a turn for my friend Marshall Brickman to write it with me. I said ‘Marshall, you wanna write a Broadway musical?’ Marshall said ‘no’. I said ‘Marshall, it’s about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.’ ” This apparently changed Marshall’s mind. Elice: “It’s such a ripping yarn. That they led the lives they led. We were very lucky to have stepped in as good listeners.”

Visit to read the entire interview.


  1. Such a great interview from both guys. Yeah, Rick looks great but he’s DECADES younger than Bob? We gotta get this writer to a good optician!

    Comment by Howard Tucker — August 31, 2009 @ 10:10 am

  2. Doing a little catching up on my summer reading and I have to ditto what you said Howard. Decades?!

    Marshall and Rick were good listeners and great storytellers. Listening was the critical first step.

    What admirable respect in Bob’s comment about not allowing parodies of songs which have moved people.

    Comment by Audrey — September 2, 2009 @ 7:51 pm

  3. Sept. 4, 2009

    My husband and I saw Jersey Boys for the first time this past May. We loved it! My OCD went into overdrive and the soundtrack has not stopped playing in both our cars. We returned to Toronto the weekend of August 21st to see the performance for the second time. (The Saturday matinee.)

    Unaware that the “real” Bob Gaudio was to be in attendance, we were stunned to see him walk in front of us as he took his seat just prior to the second act.

    To shake me from my shock, my husband suggested I take my program and ask Mr. Gaudio for his autograph. “My lips to God’s ears,” in my 54 years I have never asked for an autograph. I thought about it for a nano-second and walked cautiously over to where Mr. Gaudio was sitting at the end of the aisle. I had approximately 30 seconds before the second act was to begin to not make a complete fool of myself.

    First, not to embarass him, or myself, I asked indeed if he was Bob Gaudio. He answered “yes” in the softest, most comforting manner. I knelt down eye level and “chatted” about how much I loved the show and how impressed I was with his catalogue of work. Bob Gaudio was both gracious and engaging.

    The music for the second act was starting, and I hadn’t gotten his autograph! I quickly asked it it wasn’t too much of an imposition to have his “signature.” I was too new at the obsessed fan role to get the word autograph out. He so kindly obliged. I thanked him, shook his hand, returned to my seat… and I don’t remember one note that was sung during the second act.

    Thank you again Mr. Gaudio, for your thoughtfulness and for the wonderful memory.

    Betty Smith, Ottawa, Ontario.

    Comment by Betty Smith — September 4, 2009 @ 6:47 pm

  4. Catching up here on my reading as well, and I must say, the “decades younger” line jumped out at me too! No slam on Rick – he’s fit as a Stradivarius (I’d say ‘Strad’ except today’s generation might think I meant ‘Strat’); more of a comment on how young Mr. G appears, both in body and spirit. I’d lke to say that I hope I look as fit as he does when I reach his age, but the fact is I wish I looked that fit right now – ha ha ha.

    Betty, I must agree with you – I’ve got just a few years on you but when I met Mr. G at the Vegas opening, I felt like a nervous schoolkid and stepped all over myself, kicking myself later for not saying somethig “better.” Then I did the exact same thing when I met Mr. V(alli, of course) a few months later. Oh well…

    I must say I’m a little worried now, given Bob’s comment about song parodies. I’m an original Four Seasons fan from 1962 forward and a lover of rock’n'roll in general, and the parodies I’ve done based on their hits are done with nothing but love and respect. (Like Des McAnuff and Howard Tucker, both of whom appear decades younger than me, the first album I ever bought was their first, “Sherry and Eleven Others.”) I certainly hope I haven’t offended, and would apologize in a flash if I have.

    Comment by stubbleyou — September 5, 2009 @ 2:13 am

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