Even if you think you’re not familiar with the 1960s American doo-wop group The Four Seasons (also known as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons), you probably actually are.
Almost everyone knows the songs Big Girls Don’t Cry, Sherry, Walk Like A Man, and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, all of which were recorded by the Four Seasons.
Jersey Boys is a jukebox musical presented in documentary style that dramatizes the formation, success and eventual breakup of the group.
Bob Gaudio, one of the group’s original members, was involved in the creation of the musical, which debuted in 2004.
YES Theatre/STC is staging its own version of Jersey Boys at Sudbury Theatre Centre July 7 through Aug. 5.
“I think it’s just been like an earworm through my entire life, where listening to the radio, it just pops up, but I've never really looked into who these performers were,” said the show’s co-director, Janie Pinard.
“I think it’s because their music is really for the working-class American people, compared to The Beatles, which was more like a revolution. I went to the library to do some research and I didn't see any books on them. I was so surprised because the amount of hits that they made is incredible.
“The more I listened to them, the more I like it. I just fell in love with the music even more, which is really nice.”
Frankie Valli is portrayed in the local version of Jersey Boys by YES Theatre/STC artistic director Alessandro Costantini, who is also co-directing the show with Pinard.
Other cast members include Chris Fulton as Tommy DeVito, Michael MacEachern as Bob Gaudio and Jean-Paul Parker as Nick Massi.
The show has been in rehearsals for about five weeks.
Fulton said it’s been “really special” for him to play the part, especially given that DeVito passed away in 2020, at the age of 92. Massi has also passed on, in his case back in 2000. Gaudio and Valli, however, are still alive.
“Paying tribute to Tommy is something that I take very seriously and also, just paying tribute to the band in general I think is very, very special,” he said.
Fulton said DeVito’s Jersey Boys character is rough around the edges” and intense. “Having to navigate my relationships with the other three ‘Seasons’ has been really interesting, and it's been a really wonderful acting challenge for me,” he said.
The actor said he most enjoys performing the song “Sherry,” as it’s something he’s sung since childhood.
“Really, up until I got the call for Jersey Boys,’ I didn't realize that they had written that song,” he said. “I think part of the confusion around that, too, is that so many people know Frankie Valli, but not many people know that Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons used to just be a group of four, called The Four Seasons and Frankie Valli was not necessarily the leading man.”
April Perrin, the show’s choreographer, said the show is upbeat and high-energy, and honours the dance styles of the time periods it covers.
“People should come out to see Jersey Boys because they're going to laugh, they're going to cry, they're going to sing along, and they can expect to have an amazing night,” she said.
Tickets are still available for all the YES/STC main stage shows: Jersey Boys, The Music of Shania Twain and Romeo & Juliet, Matilda: The Musical and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Also available is the 2023 five-show pass, which saves purchasers 20 per cent on all applicable main stage shows. Purchase tickets online here.
Heidi Ulrichsen is Sudbury.com’s associate content editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.