'Jersey Boys," a crowd-pleasing hit about the singing group the Four Seasons, hews to a familiar formula - the Hollywood performer biopic. From "The Jolson Story" to "I'll Cry Tomorrow," these heart-rending tales lift the starkest, sometimes darkest, moments from a famous performer's life, and ties them together with the hits that made them icons. "Jersey Boys," playing at Broadway's August Wilson Theatre, traces the often-tortured journey of four gifted Italian-American lads from the Garden State in the 1960s.
Their story, which starts when 15-year-old Frankie Castelluccio glides effortlessly into "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," benefits from the deft hand of director Des McAnuff. As he did with "The Who's Tommy," McAnuff keeps the material from becoming a stage-bound experience. Like that production, also based on popular music, "Jersey Boys" does for John Lloyd Young - convincingly portraying the lead singer now renamed Frankie Valli - what "Tommy" did for Michael Cerveris: provide a platform for one of the most stunning new voices on Broadway in a generation.
All the Four Seasons' hits, such as "Sherry," "Walk Like a Man," and "Big Girls Don't Cry," are delivered with the full force of a concert performance. This well-crafted, emotional musical, written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, infuses these boys' lives with all the pain and glory they experienced.