Vocals, plot stand out in musical

Sarah Pressley

The stunning vocals in “Jersey Boys” coupled with a touching story of brotherhood within showbiz make the Tony Award-winning musical a treat for Austin audiences.

The hit musical production, currently playing at Bass Concert Hall, was co-written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, who have also turned “The Addams Family” into a Broadway musical. The show follows the lives of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, a popular musical group from the 1960s, from their days of playing gigs at bowling alleys in Jersey to their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Along the way, the boys begin to “Walk Like a Man” as they learn about life, love, music, the sometimes bittersweet road to success and the inevitable end of it. With its witty humor and Italian heart, “Jersey Boys” is sure to continue thrilling audiences during its stay in Austin.

The vocals within the musical are some of the best ever featured on a UT stage. Joseph Leo Bwarie, the actor portraying Valli, has an authentic voice that rivals the real deal. When The Four Seasons, composed of Valli, his brother Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and Bob Gaudio, came together and sang “Cry for Me” for the first time, audiences did just that.

In fact, the only time the vocals in the show fell short was when The Angels, who sing the old hit “My Boyfriend’s Back,” toured with The Four Seasons. Sadly, the girl’s vocals fell flat next to the talented men on stage, but every other song on the playbill was wonderfully rendered.

The dancing in the show was authentic and exciting. It was obvious that a lot of practice was put into the choreography, and it paid off when many of the members of the audience were clapping and giggling during the song and dance numbers.

It wasn’t just the theatricality that made “Jersey Boys” great. Seeing the men behind the music makes listening to Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons an entirely different experience. No longer will the songs just be pleasant music, but connections to moments in the singers’ lives.

There is no doubt why “Jersey Boys” has won numerous Tony Awards and a Grammy. The show had audience members laughing, crying and jumping out of their seats as one of the original boy bands played out their careers.

Grade: A