Your ears will adore ‘Jersey Boys’ at Riverside Center for the Performing Arts

For fans of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons: two-plus hours of signature tunes, tight harmonies, and soaring voices.

If you have fond memories of the days of AM radio, sock hops, and popular music before the British Invasion, Jersey Boys may be just the ticket to delight your ears and take you back to those heady days. Fans of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons can also wallow in two-plus hours of their signature tunes, performed with tight harmonies and soaring voices.

This experience can currently be found at Riverside Center for the Performing Arts in Fredericksburg through March 24, 2024.

Jarrett Bloom, Gian Raffaele DiCostanzo, Calvin Malone, and Cooper Shaw in ‘Jersey Boys.’ Photo by Mike Jarett.

Make no mistake: this is a jukebox musical, packed with tune after tune made famous by the four scrappy, Italian-American lads from the street corners of New Jersey. But it is also a cleverly plotted distillation of the rise, fall, and plateau of their professional lives, with key moments from their personal lives thrown in for good measure.

Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman fashioned an engaging script that allows each of the Four Seasons to step out as narrator. Founding member Tommy DeVito opens the show, guiding the audience through the spring; Bob Gaudio, known for his arrangements and songwriting skills, takes over for the summer. For the fall section, Nick Massi takes over the narration to offer his perspective on events. Lead singer Frankie Valli is the last one to take the narrator spotlight and covers the winter season of the thematic and proverbial year that represented the many years the Four Seasons were part of each other’s lives.

Throughout the story, we see the boys from New Jersey wheel, deal, get into scrapes with the law, with organized crime, and even women. Their fortunes rise as they find their place in the music scene of the late 1950s and early 1960s, appealing to young people and adults alike. The individual dynamics among the group members provide the main engine of friction and conflict. Tommy has a quick temper, an outsized ego, and a gambling habit; Bob is a wunderkind of musical talent; Nick just wants to make music and survive. Tommy snores on the road, and Frankie is sensitive and talented but obsessed with his career. All of these personalities clash at times, but when they made music, the rest is history. The quartet combined forces to record and chart an astounding number of songs in their heyday. Among their accomplishments: 15 Top 40 hits; ten songs hit the Top Ten; and five went to number one.

Eighteen of their golden hits are featured in Jersey Boys, among other pop hits of the day. What a playlist: “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Sherry,” “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night),” “My Eyes Adored You,” “Stay,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Who Loves You,” “Working My Way Back to You,” and “Rag Doll” — you get the idea. It’s difficult to resist singing along.

And how are these songs performed? Impeccably and with a phenomenal band led by Riverside’s musical director, Carson Eubank. Director/choreographer Patti D’Beck keeps the show moving with alacrity, and her cast is perfectly in tune with the demands of the doo-wop, close harmony singing the score demands.

TOP: Calvin Malone, Gian Raffaele DiCostanzo, Jarrett Bloom, and Cooper Shaw; ABOVE: The four Jersey Boys and the ensemble, in ‘Jersey Boys.’ Photos by Suzzane Carr Rossi.

Gian Raffaele DiCostanzo, a veteran of several Jersey Boys productions, has the pipes and charm to portray frontman Frankie Valli. With a soaring falsetto, DiCostanzo leads the cast and is a vocal powerhouse. His rendition of “Fallen Angel” rivaled Valli’s own recording, seeming as heartfelt and anguished, a father mourning the loss of his troubled child.

As the upstart composer and arranger Bob Gaudio, Jarrett Bloom’s voice excelled in his solo moments and whenever he joined the quartet. Bloom gets to really shine doing “December 1963 (Oh What a Night),” used to herald Guadio’s entree into adult life. (Oh, yes, he had “that” kind of a night and gets to sing about it.) The jealousy, rage, and rough-and-tumble nature of Tommy DeVito is brought to life memorably by Calvin Malone. Rounding out the foursome is Cooper Shaw as Nick Massi, the “Ringo” of the group.

Separately, each of the four central actors commands the stage when he speaks. Together, they replicate the harmonic joys and delicious melodies of the Four Seasons with ear-pleasing accuracy.

The main four are ably supported by Zachary Spafford’s Joe Pesci — yes, THAT Joe Pesci — who provides many laughs. Elizabeth C. Butler makes her mark as Mary Delgado, Valli’s love interest and first wife. Butler also gets to lead the small female ensemble as the Angels sing “My Boyfriend’s Back.” The cast also includes Ian Lane, P.J. Freebourn, Wilson Pezzuto, Sarah Mae Anderson, and Colleen Kleveno.

D’Beck’s detailed direction and pacing keep things moving along. Special mention to Mike Jarett’s lighting and projection design, which enhances Frank Foster’s scenic design with key images and video clips, illustrating highlights of the moments in the story. The two-tiered set is flexible enough to evoke the back alleys of New Jersey, various nightclubs, and stage appearances with cinematic ease.

All in all, Riveside’s Jersey Boys delivers the goods.

About the food:

Riverside Center for the Performing Arts gives audiences the option to see the show or patrons can opt for the full experience including dinner service. Since the demise of Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre, only Toby’s in Columbia, Maryland, and Riverside in Fredericksburg, Virginia, offer such experiences.

Riverside Center’s new executive chef Chris Henshall has brought new flavors and style to the menu choices. For Jersey Boys, diners may opt for themed dishes such as “Sherry Baby Peppered Beef Tips” or “Frankie’s Margherita Pizza for One,” among the options. This reviewer chose the gluten-free, lemon chicken entree, served with mashed potatoes and broccoli, and was not disappointed. While I am not a food critic, I can vouch for the improved quality of the food and highly recommend dinner with your show.

Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes with one 20-minute intermission.

Jersey Boys plays through March 24, 2024, at Riverside Center for the Performing Arts, 95 Riverside Parkway, Fredericksburg, VA. Tickets ($55–$82) are available online or through the box office 540-370-4300, open from 10 am to 6 pm, Mon.-Wed.; 10 am to 7:30 pm, Thu.-Fri; 12 pm to 7:30 pm, Sat.; 12 pm to 3 pm, Sun. Discounts are available for groups (for details click here).

Adult Dinner & Show – $82 (plus applicable taxes)
Seniors (65+) Dinner & Show – $77 (plus applicable taxes)
Children (3-17) Dinner & Show – $70 (plus applicable taxes)
Adult Show Only – $65
Seniors (65+) Show Only – $60
Children (3-17) Show Only – $55
There will be a $5.00 online processing fee added per ticket.

The playbill for Jersey Boys is online here.

Jersey Boys
Book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elic
Lyrics by Bob Crewe
Music by Bob Gaudio


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