Sunday, January 15, 2012

Broward Center: Jersey Boys (5 reviews)

The national tour of the Broadway hit musical Jersey Boys returned to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on January 10, 2012.
This is the story of how four blue-collar kids became one of thegreatest successes in pop music history. They wrote their own songs,invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide – all before they were 30! (winner of the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album and the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Musical)
Des McAnuff directs a cast that includes Joseph Leo Bwarie, Preston Truman Boyd, John Gardiner, and Michael Lomenda.

Jersey Boys has played South Florida before; here are the reviews from  Broward Center 2009 (it sold out at a whopping 104%!), and Kravis Center 2010.  We have no reviews on file for the 2011 stop at the Arsht Center.

Roger Martin reviewed for Miami
Good heavens, what are you going to say when you see a show in which everything is as good as or better than you expected? How about, “Fabulous, darling”. “Terrific.” “Truly professional.”
...the show's writers, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, have put together a story that's totally engrossing. When you add the music of Bob Gaudio and the lyrics of Bob Crewe and the performances of Preston Truman Boyd (Bob Gaudio), Joseph Leo Bwarie (Frankie Valli), John Gardiner (Tommy DiVito) and Michael Lomenda (Nick Massi), you get a wonderfully entertaining evening. And the nice thing is you really pull for these young men, good actors, good musicians; you want them to succeed.
There's a large supporting cast whose acting and singing are every bit as impressive as the leads. The technical aspects, the set, the lighting, the sound, the projections, the costumes, the band, are all one could wish for. A brilliantly staged and performed show under the direction of Des McAnuff.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
After gigs in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and all over the country, New Jersey’s most famous quartet is back onstage at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. And oh, what a night the guys deliver. Matinees too.

Jersey Boys, the hit-packed story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, is one of those musicals that could and should tour for years.
The show features a terrific streets-to-stardom script by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, craftsmen who are adept at weaving facts, drama and laughs into a compelling whole. Director Des McAnuff keeps the show flowing as flawlessly as a Four Seasons classic, building to the moment when Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi don matching jackets and blast into pop music’s stratosphere with Sherry.
The real Valli is still out there entertaining his fans at 77... But Jersey Boys has its own impressive version of the singer in actor Joseph Leo Bwarie, who has played Valli for almost four years. Bwarie can alter his natural voice (which you can hear on his debut CD Nothin’ but Love, produced by former Four Seasons member-arranger Charles Calello) so that he sounds much like Valli, whether singing in a normal register or that soaring falsetto. He’s a fine actor too: Watch as he registers Valli’s thrill when the crowd goes wild for the Four Seasons, a moment Bwarie has played hundreds of times.

Michael Lomenda is back as the funny, slightly eccentric Massi, the bass player who abruptly quit and group and has since passed away. John Gardiner is a brash, controlling Tommy DeVito, the group member who was exiled to Las Vegas after getting the Seasons into double trouble over huge loans and delinquent taxes. Preston Truman Boyd, last seen on tour as the monster in Young Frankenstein, is a beguiling boy genius as Gaudio.
John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin'
Joseph Leo Bwarie is flawless as the golden-voiced Frankie Valli in the perfect marriage of the right performer to the right role. He transitions seamlessly into song after song, and is also the cleanest dancer of the four men. John Gardiner as the troubled Tommy DeVito is perhaps a bit forced in his attempt to capture the "wiseguy" image of his character. Preston Truman Boyd has a warmth and vulnerability in his portrayal of Bob Gaudio that makes his character most likeable. Michael Lomenda as Nick Massi is particularly entertaining in a scene in which his character suddenly vents his years of frustrations with fellow band member DeVito.
Bwarie, Boyd, Gardiner and Lomenda sound wonderful together in song after song, and the most thrilling moments in the show are the ones in which they are recreating the stage performances of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. As the four characters take turns telling their version of the group's journey, one recalls that the music is just the centerpiece of the colorful story being told. The twists and turns of the careers and friendships of the original four members of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons unfold with humor, heartache and warmth. It is a story and a production well worth seeing and hearing.
Phyllis Green reviewed gushed for ENV Magazine:
Thousands of cheering fans floated through the Broward Center of Performing Arts after seeing a phenomenal performance of the 2006 Tony Award winning musical “Jersey Boys”. For an audience made up of the generation that sang, danced and romanced to the Rock and Roll predecessors of the British invasion, it is over two hours of dazzling fun.
Frankie Valli, played flawlessly by Joseph Leo Bwarie began as a young nerdy kid with a good voice, that blended perfectly with guys from the neighborhood...  The unique harmony with Musical Direction by Ron Melrose plus Sergio Trujillo’s sensational Choreography, which looked more like dancing, kept the pace soaring.
(as opposed to choreography that looks nothing like dancing? -ed.)
But it wasn’t just the songs; the story of the highs and lows of traveling on the road, the accusations, getting along with each other, plus their own personal lives, interwoven through compelling narratives told by each of the principals, created a plot that held together in riveting fashion.  The highlighted scene for this writer comes late in the first act when Frankie and his wife cannot stay together; she exits up the small circular staircase, leaving him alone on the stage to chant the lilting “My Eyes Adored You”.’s no wonder that it became a blockbuster phenomenon with companies touring all over the world...
Beau Higgins reviewed gushed for
...this musical, based on the life and careers of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is thrilling, masterful, and certainly unforgettable.   I tossed and I turned remembering magical pieces of stage craft, goose bump inducing performances and everything else that makes up this Tony winning Best Musical; indeed one of the best musicals of all time.
The last time I reviewed JERSEY BOYS, I raved about Joseph Leo Bwarie’s Frankie Valli, writing that every home should have a Joseph Leo Bwarie.  Mr. Bwarie has still not visited my home, but he continues to be impossibly magnificent as the star of JERSEY BOYS.  His performance is electric, it is moving. Frankly, it is an astonishing feat Mr. Bwarie accomplishes with his every moment giving us the intensity of opening night.
Now to a certain Mr. Preston Truman Boyd (don’t you just love the name?)  As Bob Gaudio, one of the original Four Seasons and the writer of the music to their songs, Mr. Boyd is absolutely delicious.  His performance is so delightful, he joins Mr. Bwarie in giving an unforgettable JERSEY BOYS performance.
I could go on and on about the wonder that is JERSEY BOYS, but there are not too many adjectives left for me to use.  John Gardiner and Michael Lomenda are spot on perfect at the other two Seasons; heck, there is not a weak link to be found in JERSEY BOYS at the Broward Center. 
The smash hit Jersey Boys plays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through January 29, 2012.

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