Something a little different for me here, reviewing a play – Jersey Boys, instead of a book.
Last Saturday, my husband and I went to a play together – something we’ve never done together. I love going to plays and musicals, and those events are usually reserved for girlfriend time. My hub is much happier watching sports.
My husband’s brother called us when we returned from our holiday to say hello, but he also express great enthusiasm for a play his children bought him tickets to go see – the Jersey Boys. His kids knew he would love it because of the era of music, and he surely did. He loved it so much he wanted his brother to go see the musical with me and sent us a pair of tickets! He urged me to pull up some videos of the play on Youtube to show my hub clips of the music. I knew my hub would be curious to go and could almost rest assured that he wouldn’t fall asleep while watching – the reason we don’t normally go to plays together, lol.
We took the subway down and walked half a block to the theater. It turned out to be a freezing cold windy and snowy day as a prank reminder that Mother Nature was not yet done with winter in our city. I was thrilled to actually be going with my husband despite that era of music which is not my most favorite genre, and boy, did I get a surprise.
We arrived in our seats approximately 20 minutes before the show began. While waiting I was surveying the layout of the theater and thought to myself how expensive the seats are considering the width of the seats felt tighter than an airplane, there were no cup holders for expensive drinks, and I took notice that every 2 rows were raised a tiny bit higher than the previous rows to aid in viewing But I knew I wasn’t going to be able to see because the increments in raised levels was unremarkable.
Sure enough, the giraffe and the tall lady with the humongous hair sat right in front of me. ‘Nuff said.
The show was fabulous! There were some terrific talent in that cast – both singing and acting. I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Frankie Valli’s life leading to the formation of the group, the Four Seasons and beyond. The story was a well written mini biography of the persistence of Valli to keep his band together despite the many pitfalls they endured, the original members’ backgrounds, friendships, relationships, and how the lyrics for their songs came to be. This band along with so many who strive to make it in the music world, took a lot of lumps along their way to stardom, and the many pitfalls of fame when it comes too fast.
The artists’ struggle took me back to the days when I too was a struggling singer with aspirations of ‘making it’, and in those days, the music industry wasn’t big in Toronto. Like the old adage reminds – it’s not how good you are, but who you know. I didn’t know the right people, and often one hopeful meeting led to another when ultimately, I was faced with some shady characters. That’s when I gave up pursuing my dream, but Valli endured toward his own.
The music was fabulous, but as a writer, I’m always drawn to story line. and I thought the show had some great writing for the story to be told through music and words. As we continued to watch, clap along, and sing in our chairs, I scanned the room in preparation for intermission – when I planned to move so I could actually see the play without crooking my neck. We crossed over to an empty row one section over and the second half of the play was much more enjoyable.
I loved the way the scenes were set up into seasons: Spring was the beginning of the group, summer were their heydays. fall was the beginning of problems surfacing, personally and monetarily, and winter was the calm – the breaking up of the original group and Valli making it on his own with a new band. Courage, persistence, and luck brought Valli to fame at a young age. And despite finally reaching fame, as is common with young artists, nobody was really minding the shop – the business side of being a performer, just like the marketing and self-publishing a writer must add to their repertoire. Four guys started a band, worked for peanuts, slept in dives. did menial side jobs on the side to survive the lean times. One was a tough guy-mobster wannabe, but he made all the gig connections and brought the group to fame. There were relationship problems at their homefronts and behind the stage, and they all had their demons. It reminded how much artists struggle to reach that pinnacle of fame. The show was an entertaining inside look into the making of a musical legend and the pitfalls and highlights along the way. I’m so glad we went.
We rode the subway home. I couldn’t get over how crowded the trains were at 5pm on a Saturday, reminding me just how crowded our city is, not just on the roads. We stepped into the train and hung on to the hand strap, squashed in a crowd. Three stops later, a woman stood up to leave and I held her seat for my husband. An Asian woman sitting beside him was preoccupied on her mobile phone but took a moment to look up at me and did a hand signal language,. asking if I’d like her seat. She didn’t look much younger than I am and I couldn’t decide in that moment if I was flattered she’d offered or if I looked old enough for her to feel I needed the seat.. But maybe I think too much. I was grateful to learn that there were still courteous people around either way. I smiled in appreciation, and signaled to her I was fine.
It was a good day.
I found this clip of the British cast with a segment of the play on Youtube: