Highlighted by the legendary Elmo-on-helium vocal range of frontman Frankie Valli, the Four Seasons became one of the most popular music groups of all time, selling 175 million records worldwide. The musical Jersey Boys, now a global phenomenon itself, documents the band’s meager beginnings and meteoric rise. Played out like a frenetic episode of Behind the Music, complete with drug overdoses and debts to the mob (hey, it’s Jersey), the show—currently touring North America—is broken into four parts, with each band member narrating a different season: spring, summer, etc.
The first season is a chaotic blur of changing sets, inconsequential characters and snippets of song as several years’ worth of events are crammed into about 30 minutes. Come summertime, the band finally makes it big with three No. 1 hits in a row: “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man.” This is what we all came for, and the singer-actors don’t disappoint, with Joseph Leo Bwarie delivering a particularly impressive Valli-esque falsetto. When the group makes its debut on American Bandstand—cool set work allows us to see them both onstage and on TV—the audience at the Keller shrieked like the teenagers who were actually there. The nostalgic tunes and stellar performances are the reason to see this show, and the show’s overall giddiness is infectious.
But come fall and winter, things begin to decline, both for the band and the show’s momentum. It’s clear the story of the Four Seasons is really no more remarkable than other groups’ of the time whose fame eventually fizzled. Valli even still tours regularly (Aug. 19 at the Snoqualmie Casino!), but his current popularity, sadly, cannot match that of the musical about his own life. We’d rather live in the past where four boys from Jersey can become international music sensations—until the arrival of disco, anyway.
SEE IT: Jersey Boys is at the Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St., 248-4335, pcpa.com. 7:30 pm Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 7:30 pm Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 pm Sundays through Aug. 12. $25-$69.