Advance Tickets Recommended
Richard H. Blake, Matt Bogart, Joseph Leo Bwarie, Quinn VanAntwerp, Peter Gregus
1 at 50th St.; C, E at 50th St.
||Tue-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Wed, Sat, 2pm; Sun, 3pm|
Rejoice, Rahway; Weehawken, be glad. After years as the butt of the nation’s jokes, the Garden State is getting a kiss from Broadway. The new musical Jersey Boys traces the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, along the way showering the band’s much-abused home state with love. Well, tough love, anyway. A toxic-looking skyline looms over the stage, and walls of chain-link fence tower above the scene, the way trees do in other states. But it was here, on the unlovely (yet melodious) streets of an Italian neighborhood in North Jersey, that a thug turned guitarist, Tommy DeVito, and a bassist with a harmonic streak, Nick Massi, began forming a band. Add the divine falsetto of Frankie Valli and the songwriting gifts of Bob Gaudio, change names eight or ten times, and soon you’re selling records like the Beatles. “We put Jersey on the map,” crows DeVito. They also put Jersey in the seats. When the band played hits like “Sherry,” or made explicit reference to their Jersey roots, it sounded like a riot was unfolding in the mezzanine. Even among the high rollers in the orchestra seats, where signs of enthusiasm are regarded as arriviste, excitement abounded. The show has its weaknesses, God knows, but it succeeds in making the big, ornate August Wilson Theatre feel like a good indie-rock venue, filled with shared, tolerant joy.