Jersey Boys | Theater | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Jersey Boys

This jukebox musical is dazzling, propulsive entertainment.


OK, readers, you have a choice: D' you wanna read nice things about Jersey Boys (now on tour in Pittsburgh) or bitchy wisecracks about the Benedum audience?

My, you are a bunch of vipers, aren't you? Well, I'm taking the high road instead, and talking about Des McAnuff, the theatrical genius who directed this jukebox musical about the rise, fall and rise of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.

A jukebox musical is a catalogue of songs (sharing the same writers, performers or time period) crammed into a plot written specifically for the purpose. (The most famous is Mamma Mia!) The Four Seasons' music is what it is, and certainly the band's break-up and reconfiguration is familiar from backstage movies and documentaries.

So it's up to McAnuff to turn the material into a scorching theatrical event. And does he ever. There's not a single ounce of fat in the show: Even the book, by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, has been pared to the dramaturgical bone. Nothing is stopping McAnuff and company from creating a dazzling, propulsive entertainment.

Brandon Andrus, Colby Foytik, Jason Kappus and Brad Weinstock play our eponymous heroes and, for both good and bad, it's not difficult to see they've been on the road for some time. They're wonderful performers who couldn't be slicker and more polished, though perhaps just the tiniest bit, well, automatic.

But when it comes to your enjoyment of the show, such concerns are minor ... especially when compared to the behavior of the Benedum audience. (You twisted my arm!)

Have these people ever been to the theater before? They weren't just standing to clap after every number — they were standing during the songs. One woman behind me was, apparently, getting a jump on her Christmas gift wrapping: Nothing else could explain the 20 minutes of crinkling going on back there. A man behind me was explaining to his wife what she'd missed while he'd been explaining to her what she missed before that.

And isn't it Benedum policy that when you leave your seat during an act, you can't be re-seated until intermission? If not, and if they'd rather not have the auditorium resemble an airport lounge during the show, they might think about instituting that rule.

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