I’ll admit it: I’ve become a bit of a theatre snob in recent years. Some of the national tours that have come through Charlotte have been hit-or-miss, with the occasional disappointment of a favorite show. (See: A Chorus Line) So imagine my trepidation with seeing Jersey Boys last night at Blumenthal’s Belk Theatre… A show I’d never seen, but which I knew was very well regarded by the theatre community.
I actually enjoyed the show very much, though probably for different reasons than many of the audience.
Disclaimer: I’m not a huge fan of the Four Seasons. Of course I’ve heard and enjoyed many of their songs, but prior to last night I wouldn’t have been able to name more than one or two songs by the group. I did, of course, recognize most of them in the show… The evening was a continuing series of “Oh, yeah! THAT song!”
For most of the audience, on the other hand, I suspect the music was the big draw. At intermission, a memorable gentleman behind me in the bar line commented to me, “I don’t do shows, but THIS… THIS is a SHOW! These guys are really doin’ something, ain’t they?” Many people were cheering and applauding within the first couple of notes of a song — clearly excited by the familiarity of beloved music, even before they were able to judge the quality of the singing.
For me, the music was fine — the singing was good, the musical instruments were played well, but if I was at home and wanted to hear the songs, I’d just listen to the original Four Seasons rather than a cast recording. What really appealed to me about Jersey Boys was the story itself. I was utterly captivated by the real-life story of four guys from New Jersey who ended up becoming a worldwide sensation.
The dramatic performances were absolutely what kept my attention throughout, with the musical numbers complimenting them nicely. Contrast this with Mamma Mia!, where the story is really only a contrivance to string together beloved Abba songs. It probably helps that that the story behind Jersey Boys is largely based in fact, not just an excuse to play the music.
Whether you’re in the mood for an intriguing biographical story, eager to hear live performances of favorite Four Seasons songs, or just eager to see the 2006 Tony Award-winning “Best Musical” on tour, I encourage you to give this show a chance. Tickets may be available to this sold-out run, as a few seats may be released on the day of each performance. It’s definitely worth a phone call to try.