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Story by Andy Argyrakis
The cast may have shuffled slightly come the top of its second year in town, but considering all four lead vocalists were still dead-on impressionists, they made the nostalgic experience come alive to equivalent degrees as the original line-up. After playing the role on Broadway, Cory Grant recently settled in as the new Valli in Chicago and sent the sky-high vocals of first act smashes like "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Walk Like a Man" straight up to the theatre's rafters. Of course, having harmonic accompaniment helped replicate the gang's original blend of pop, soul and doo-wop, which in hindsight, almost seemed tailor-made for a musical.
Even though the songs were impressive, the storyline remains the most captivating element of this production, if only for the endless string of real-life drama members endured. Given the squeaky clean nature of the songs, one never would've suspected some of the guys had major family problems, tax troubles and even mafia connections during the show's most riveting scene. Add in backstage backstabbing, creative tensions and even an unexpected death in one of the fellas' families, and it's startling why VH1 didn't beat the band to the punch in a "Behind the Music" episode.
Despite the whirlwind of struggles presented, music kept the Valli character in particular from completely unraveling, who inherited the majority of the spotlight in the second half thanks to series of solo selections. Grant did a bang up job on the grand ballad "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," backed by a bristling brass section and full-fledged orchestra nestled cozily in the pit, while the full cast cemented The Four Seasons' revival during the grand finale "Who Loves You." While the actual Valli continues to tour with a fairly well-preserved voice, "Jersey Boys" not only captures his group's best-loved songs, but the stories that made them so special.
"Jersey Boys" continues with tickets on sale through April 12 at the Bank of America Theatre with additional details at www.broadwayinchicago.com..
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