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The Scrambler
art-literature-music/arte-literatura-música
                        Walk like a Man, Sing like a Girl
                                 
a Jersey Boys review

As a radio listener, I once heard Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons win a listener poll, beating
out the likes of Peter Frampton, Prince, and the Bee Gees, for the title of the male singer(s)
whose voices are most often confused for those of women. With that edifying knowledge and a
couple of their smash hits in my mind, but little other information on a band that peaked before
my time, I went to see “Jersey Boys” at the Community Center Theater in Sacramento.
Unlike “Mama Mi`a,” another pop band tribute made into a play, “Jersey Boys” doesn’t tell an
outlandish if fun story to make appropriate the most unlikely combination of songs. Instead, it
chronicles the real life rise of fame of Francis Castelluccio and his early 1960’s group, originally
called “The Romans.”
The story of Frankie Valli, his mentor and buddy Tommy DeVito, friend Nick Massi, and late-hire
songwriter/back-up Bob Gaudio is surprisingly frank about the men’s prison time, marital
infidelity, and longstanding mob involvement. These subjects along with a young adult’s drug
addiction and the realistic dialogue that peppers the play may put cautious parents off. Further,
the story was initially difficult to follow, assuming an audience knowledge that may not exist of the
singers.  
The strength of the story lies in its giving voice and even point of view to all 4 of the group’s
members,  and especially in focusing on Tommy’s jealousy of Frankie’s escalating reliance on
Bob’s talent. This conflict is fascinating, and attempts to broaden the characters with thrown-in
domestic details that go nowhere serve only to weaken the overall impact. However, this is
balanced nicely with such innovative touches as actual historic footage from Frankie Valli and
the Four Seasons appearances on American Bandstand and The Ed Sullivan Show being
projected behind the acting out of these events on stage. The black and white footage, complete
with awestruck screaming teenage girls, gives the play a strong feeling of authenticity.
While I appreciate accuracy, it was that the play is loaded with sarcastic humor and (of course!)
with a non-stop barrage of high falsetto hits including : Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like a
Man, My Boyfriend’s Back (in which the band backed up The Angels), My Eyes Adored You,
Can’t Take My Eyes off of You, and December 1963 (Oh, What a Night) that had the area where
I was sitting clapping, swaying, and singing along with this blast of nostalgic joy.
The actors in “Jersey Boys” walked like men through a standing ovation and an encore. Let’s
see you match that, Peter Frampton.
Heather Craig lives in Davis, California.
*The performance was attended on September 11, 2007 at the
Sacramento Community Theatre. To see when Jersey Boys hits
your town, click on the logo below.
image of Jersey Boys publicity poster