Jersey Boys

“I’m kinda loving this trend of how popular Broadway musicals are being turned into movies. Yes, they’re kinda hit or miss, but the idea of bringing musicals mainstream makes me happy. Jersey Boys, as a musical, is a bit of an anomaly for me. Despite it’s Tony success, I never really had any interest in it. I did not grow up with this music, wasn’t grabbed by the story, and didn’t hear anything that made me want to go see it. Certainly not worth the NYC trip, and I didn’t bother when it was in Boston. Most of my theatre friends felt similarly. Yet, I’m grateful that it exists. It strikes me as a good “”gateway musical”” for people who wouldn’t otherwise be interested, but who love The Four Seasons. You get them to the theater to see the music they love live on stage and maybe, just maybe they fall in love with theatre in the process. Even if I’m not pulled to watch the stage version, it doesn’t take much convincing to get me to watch a movie. Any movie really. Especially movie musicals with known source material.

I actually went with an old theatre friend I hadn’t seen in a while. Our schedules aligned to where my one free night was earmarked for a movie, so this was the obvious choice. He’d felt similarly about the show, but at least had more of a personal tie to the music than I did. Neither of us were too impressed with the film.

It just never really gained momentum. There were a few lively sequences, mostly those with the first person narration (a gimmick I’m told was taking from stage that I thought worked rather well on screen), but otherwise it seemed like the action never really took off. It also didn’t feel much like a musical, more just a movie with music. I’m not sure if the stage version incorporates the songs better, but the overall feel was very cinematic. I don’t know how these scenes originally worked, but I know they couldn’t have been as flat as I saw them.

I appreciate that so many stage actors were brought back for the film. John Lloyd Young won a Tony for originating the role of Frankie Valli. While I’m sure he had stage charisma, I wasn’t sold on him. The next day I was in NYC waiting in line to see Rocky on Broadway and I overheard an older couple in front of me discussing the film. He described Young as “”stiff””. I realized that was exactly the characterization I couldn’t put my finger on the night before. I think casting a Hollywood actor, Vincent Piazza, as the least musical season was a smart choice, since it brought a bit more screen presence. Not quite enough to balance out what was lacking, but a step in the right direction.

My favorites, however, were Erich Bergen and Michael Lomenda, recreating their roles from the national tour. I just found their characters more interesting and sympathetic. They also weren’t as burdened in carrying the film as the other two Seasons were, so they felt more relaxed and natural.

At this point, if I were to see the show, it’d just be out of general curiosity. I’m not in any hurry though. I’ll let the baby boomers have their nostalgia with Jersey Boys and I’ll stick to my more modern themed shows I love so much. It’s cool.

Jersey Boys – \m/ \m/

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