Jersey Boys is a relatively new addition to the list of Broadway shows in New York, premiering in 2005, with music from Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe.

The compelling story is based upon Marshall Brickman, and Rick Elice's book, narrated in the style of most famous Broadway shows, through a musical.

Although it is not as popular as other adaptations like Wicked!, it still holds a sacred place in the hearts of cult followers.

It is a jukebox show, made in a documentary style, covering the travails of a 1960's rock 'n' roll group called The Four Seasons.

The story takes us through their journey as a band, from their formation to widespread popularity and then finally breaking up.

It is categorized in four different sections, stylized as four seasons, and narrated by a different band member in each section.

Each member gives his own perspective and allows us to see the band's development from each of their eyes.

The musical had a twelve-year run on Broadway, NYC, running from 2005 to 2017, sandwiched by two North American tours and two tours of the UK and Ireland.

The show has been produced multiple times around the globe, in not just Broadway New York, but in London's West End, Melbourne, Las Vegas, Chicago, Japan, South Africa, and Dubai.

Furthermore, it won four Tony Awards in 2006, including one for the 'Best Musical' and a Laurence Olivier Award for the 'Best New Musical' in 2009.

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Development

In case you didn't know, The Four Seasons was actually a band. In the early 2000s, one of the members, Bob Gaudio, came up with the idea to make a musical based on the band's discography.

The idea lacked originality as it had already been done before for one of the top Broadway shows in New York in the form of Mamma Mia!, which based itself on ABBA's music.

To develop the storyline, he hired book writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and trusted the directing to Des McAnuff, who has helped direct many of the best Broadway shows in New York.

However, he insisted on incorporating the band's history within the storyline, unlike some other top Broadway shows like Mamma Mia!, which featured an independent story track but featured a soundtrack from real bands.

Before that, The Four Seasons was a relatively unknown band to the general public, having faded into obscurity after starting in the 1970s.

During their research, the writers found that the band members had prison records, which could have stifled their growth and kept their music from being played after they disbanded.

While this could be a reason for their bad publicity, it certainly made for a good storyline for a Broadway musical.

To draw upon their stories, Brickman and Elice gathered materials from the past interviews of the surviving band members, Gaudio, Frankie Valli, and Tommy Devito.

They had their brief moment of fame as a group but faded into obscurity because of other groups, like the Beatles, overshadowing them.

And the writing process for the Broadway show brought back memories of this perceived "heyday."

However, if biographies are not your thing, you can delve into the exciting world of 1920s Chicago!

A closeup of empty red seats in a dimly lit theater. The top Broadway shows are often booked in advance for weeks and even months on end. In comparison, off-Broadway is less exclusive. However, the quality does lack
While Broadway is seen as the crème de la crème of theater, off-Broadway is considered less exclusive and often hosts many shows that couldn't compete for space with the top Broadway shows (Source: Unsplash)

Productions

Jersey Boys first premiered as a small production at the La Jolla Playhouse at the University of California in 2004.

Next year, it began previews on Broadway on October 4, 2005, finally premiering on November 6, 2005, at the August Wilson Theatre.

The opening cast featured:

  • John Lloyd Young playing the role of Frankie Valli
  • Christian Hoff playing the role of Tommy DeVito
  • Daniel Reichard playing the role of Bob Gaudio
  • Robert Spencer playing the role of Nick Massi

The time is rounded up with Des McAnuff as the director and Sergio Trujillo as the choreographer.

Initially, the show did a nationwide tour of the US at the end of 2006, starting from the Curran Theatre in San Francisco and expanding to 38 cities.

This means that the show was as popular in its first few months as shows like The Lion King.

As the national tour made its way to New York, Broadway, a second run started on the side, which ended in Chicago. The cast also made a cameo at the 2007 Emmy Awards.

The following year, the musical premiered at West End at the Prince Edward Theatre, with Molloy performing the lead role for six years.

This feat got his name in the history books as he secured the record of the longest-running actor in any musical in the West End.

A few months after it ended its run on Broadway in 2017, it was announced that the musical would open Off-Broadway. Hence, it reopened at the New World Stages for the public on November 22, 2017.

The new production shares the script and the soundtrack with the original Broadway show. However, as is typical of off-Broadway shows, it features a smaller cast, smaller theater, and lower ticket prices.

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While the most famous Broadway shows are usually musicals, that doesn't mean other genres don't feature among the list of shows, which include comedies, historical pieces, and thrillers (Source: Unsplash)

Plot, Narrative, And Soundtrack

The creators of the show put immense effort into each element of every scene. Read on as we discuss the plot, narrative, and soundtrack that come together to provide an exhilarating experience:

The Plot

The plot is set in Belleville, New Jersey, and follows the group from 1961 to the early 2000s. It is reminiscent of a gangster film, and you will find themes similar to other 'mob' genre storylines.

Additionally, if you're a fan of coming-of-age movies from mid-century America like Rebel Without A Cause, you're in for a treat with this musical.

The story starts by showing us the lives of four working-class boys who seem poised to descend into a life of delinquency until music sets in and gives them a goal in life.

There is no way out of their neighborhood for them, where joining the mob and making a livelihood through organized crime is the norm.

The characters are all based on real people; the four members of The Four Seasons band, that is Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Nick Massi, and Tommy Devito.

All of them have different personalities, and we're shown their character arcs, narrated and presented to the audience, in their voices.

Frankie starts as a confused and vulnerable teen who turns into the leading man as time passes. On the other hand, Bobby has the brains but not the ambition or direction to take him anywhere until he finds himself.

Tommy is the street-smart guy in the group, who doesn't always have the best intentions for his fellow bandmates, and Nick is the wallflower that fades into the background.

This musical is not wholesome. Far from the vintage feel of the Phantom of the Opera and the Book of Mormon, it is a brilliant depiction of lower-middle-class America around the post-war mid-century years.

The Narrative

Jersey Boys follows a linear single strand narrative, and unlike many other musicals which follow multiple subplots, this one follows one main story. The story is told in chronological order, from the 1960s to the 2000s.

However, it is broken down into four sections, each narrated by the four main characters, stylized as four seasons, which is uncharacteristic of most Broadway shows in NYC, which feature many subplots.

Tommy starts off the narration from the town of Belleville and takes us through the early beginnings of the group of four.

Bob, Nick, and Frankie take over, taking us through different stages of The Four Seasons' journey as a musical group.

The genre can be called a biographical drama since it is hard to fit Jersey Boys into one specific genre.

An empty theater hall with red chairs and black and silver steps. Broadway shows in New York can accommodate more than 500 people, while an off-Broadway show can accommodate between 100-499 people
Some Broadway shows are based on historical pieces like The Phantom of the Opera, while some are satirical in nature, like the Book of Mormon. However, both outline a loaded narrative of society and unpack it with the utmost responsibility (Source: Unsplash)

It can best be described as a mix between a gangster flick with shades of a song-and-dance show thrown in. Moreover, the jukebox bops add a specific nostalgic value to the production.

As such, it is bound to resonate with Baby Boomers, as it depicts the ethos of the 1960s quite well. There are also shades of a dark and gritty thriller piece, with ample realism thrown in.

But it is still, however, a musical, and it's hard to escape the glamor that is so typical of the best Broadway shows in NYC.

The Music

The music used is composed by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, representing the American Rock' n' Roll genre of music.

The tunes are reminiscent of the Beach Boys and Elvis, and you might even find yourself relating it to Grease.

Furthermore, the soundtrack works well with the storyline and complements the trajectories of the character throughout the story.

The soundtrack includes hits like "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Rag Doll," among others.

Watch Broadway And Become Part Of The World Of Expressive Theatre

Broadway shows are quite inspirational, and you shouldn't be surprised if you come out wanting to become an actor, singer, producer, dancer, choreographer, or director.

And if you do find yourself in that position, don't fret! Superprof has experienced teachers who can coach you to become anything!

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