The boys put it best: "Oh, what a night!"
As a Jersey girl, I can tell you that Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, is a high-energy musical full of great songs ("Earth Angel," "Sherry," "Walk Like a Man," "Working My Way Back to You") and great voices. The show - a Broadway hit that won four Tony Awards and a Grammy for best musical show album - was last in Philly two years ago. I had a good time then, and I had a good time again.
Valli (Nick Cosgrove has a killer falsetto) was a teenager in a mobbed-up Italian neighborhood who became the lead singer of a quartet that eventually took the name the Four Seasons.
Tommy (Nicolas Dromard) is his brash, gambling mentor, and Bob Gaudio (Jason Kappus) the forward-looking pragmatist who wrote all their songs, having composed his first hit, "Who Wears Short Shorts," at age 15. Nick (Brandon Andrus) is their bass voice, nearly silent, ironical, and oddly compelling. Their lovable, savvy producer (Barry Anderson) completes the core of the cast, with many others - singers, actors, musicians - helping generate a big sound.
When Gaudio was stuck for a next song, he heard Rhonda Fleming say in a cheesy movie, "Big girls don't cry," and there it was. This seems to have inspired the Roy Lichtenstein-esque projections that provide backdrop and amusing commentary on the action onstage.
Frankie's life had its ups and downs - huge success, debts of honor, wrecked friendships, family tragedy. It's the old, old story of money and sex. They spent years on the road: "You sell a hundred million records, and see how you handle it."
The show opens with "Ces Soirees-La," the French version of "Oh, What a Night," which was a huge hit in Paris in 2000. As Tommy says, "I don't want to seem ubiquitous, but we're the guys who put Jersey on the map."
At the Forrest Theatre, 1114 Walnut St., through Jan. 5.
Information: 1-800-447-7400 or www.telecharge.com