This undated theater image released by The Hartman Group shows Frankie Valli of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons performing. Valli, whose falsetto fuels The Four Seasons debuts Oct. 19 on Broadway with seven shows at the Broadway Theatre. HANDOUT CREDIT: The Hartman Group [Via MerlinFTP Drop]
(Photo: The Hartman Group)
by Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY
NEW YORK - OK, so only one of the actual Jersey Boys was on stage.
When Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on Broadway began a seven-concert engagement at the Broadway Theatre Friday night, Valli himself was the sole representative of the original band that inspired that massively successful jukebox musical. But no matter: 50 years after the release of the Four Seasons' first recording, its 78-year-old frontman proved a perfectly capable host for this two-hour-plus golden-anniversary party.
At the start, Valli assured the crowd that he and the current incarnation of the Four Seasons would cover "as many of the hits as we possibly can," and he did not disappoint. The set opened with a buoyant performance of his last chart-topping smash, the theme from the 1978 film version of Grease; it then dipped back to encompass everything from early singles to disco-era classics and other Valli solo favorites, notably Can't Take My Eyes Off of You, which he dedicated to the audience.
There were a few passing references to the show that made Valli's late arrival on the Great White Way all but inevitable. After the bright-voiced, bushy-tailed younger men who currently make up the Four Seasons introduced themselves and gave shout-outs to their home towns, their leader quipped, "My name is Frankie Valli and I'm just a Jersey boy." He also noted that it was a special treat to appear just "around the corner" from the enduringly popular musical, and thanked fans for contributing to its success.
But the emphasis was on delivering the hits -- and not just Valli's own. One sequence was devoted to songs from his 2007 cover album, Romancing the '60s. An unabashed nostalgist, Valli segued from a mock excerpt of a modern-day pop song -- "Do people really make love to that music?" he asked incredulously -- to a string of tunes that, he quipped, were "stolen" from him, among them Call Me, Spanish Harlem and a medley of My Girl and Groovin'.
Though Valli predictably occupied the spotlight for most of the night, he gave gracious acknowledgment and solo turns both to his musicians and his current lineup of supporting vocalists. The latter spent the first half of the concert largely in the background, swaying and gesticulating in a carefully synchronized, old-school style -- snapping their fingers here, slicking back their hair in unison there.
But the singers -- Landon Beard, Todd Fournier and brothers Brandon and Brian Brigham -- later stepped forward, bouncing through an exuberant Who Loves You before each put his own flashy spin on the refrain in December 1963 (Oh, What A Night). Valli, his tenor impressively clean and tangy, held his own, and managed to please the crowd with a few falsetto flights.
The show ended with a steady stream of golden oldies -- among them Sherry, Walk Like A Man and Big Girls Don't Cry-- followed by an encore of Rag Doll and Let's Hang On, ensuring that Valli's fellow pop preservationists went home happy.