You'll have a good time. My hand to God. My lips should fall off my face if I'm telling you wrong.
Jersey Boys, which has been touring the world, winning prizes (Tony, Grammy, Olivier) wherever it goes, is the story of guys who grew up in a tough Italian neighborhood in New Jersey and became the Four Seasons. It's like a singing Sopranos, with a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, lyrics by Bob Crewe, and directed by Des McAnuff.
Jersey Boys is a biography of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons; it has a huge roster of their hit songs ("Sherry," "Rag Doll," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man"), but, unlike jukebox musicals, this show also has a narrative and dramatic characters and evokes an era: "A thousand years ago: Eisenhower. Rocky Marciano." Judging by the grinning, dancing-in-their-seats middle-aged audience, that era is a not-too-distant memory.
Like any good showbiz story, it reveals the ups and downs of the life: peddling songs to producers, to radio stations, in recording studios, and on the road. The glory days of adoring crowds of fans mingled with the domestic strife of wives, and of children rarely seen. We follow their friendships, their financial woes, and there's a song for every occasion.
Frankie Valli (Joseph Leo Bwarie) is just a teenager with a killer falsetto and melting eyes when he finds his local guy-mentor, mobbed-up Tommy DeVito (Matt Bailey - why, oh, why, am I still falling for the sexy bad boys?). What with one street-corner singer or another going to prison, it's hard to keep a group together. But eventually, with the addition of Nick Massi (Steve Gouveia) and the songwriter Bob Gaudio (Quinn VanAntwerp), the Four Seasons rock to the top of the charts and, eventually, the Hall of Fame.
The cast members, who can act as well as sing, are also sound-alikes/look-alikes for people who remember the originals. Besides the four, Joseph Siravo, as both the mob boss and a smarmy record producer, is terrific, and a slew of capable others play multiple roles in a show that never lags.
The set is mostly just a stage with a catwalk and some movable furniture, but the wit in Klara Zieglerova's design lies in the huge Roy Lichtenstein paintings that loom over the stage, illustrating and commenting on the action onstage.
Through Dec. 12 at the Forrest Theatre, 1114 Walnut St.
Tickets: $52.50-$141.50 Information: 800-447-7400