‘Jersey Boys’ returns to Scranton
Cultural Center for eight shows
It seems “Jersey Boys” can’t take its eyes off Scranton for too long.
The national tour of the Broadway sensation about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons returns to the city almost three years after drawing in crowds during a nearly two-week run. Broadway Theatre League of Northeastern Pennsylvania again brings the musical to Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave., this time for eight shows starting Tuesday, Jan. 17.
“People love the music, but one of the great things about ‘Jersey Boys’ is it’s so well written. … They just put something together that is really entertaining in that it’s like an episode of ‘The Sopranos’ but with music,” said Keith Hines, an Oklahoman who plays Four Seasons member Nick Massi. “It’s a gangster story, and that’s entertaining. On top of that, (it’s) a story about blue-collar guys achieving extreme stardom.”
Valli — who often visited his maternal grandmother in Dunmore as a child — formed his iconic singing group in New Jersey along with Massi and the other two “seasons,” Tommy DeVito and Bob Gaudio. They achieved stardom with the 1962 hit “Sherry” and followed with such now-classics as “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man.” Personal troubles eventually broke up the original quartet, but Valli and a new lineup continued to find success through the years.
The musical based on the group’s experiences opened on Broadway on Nov. 6, 2005, and closes this Sunday after more than 4,600 performances and four Tony awards, including best musical. Featuring many of the group’s biggest hits, “Jersey Boys” attracted a devoted following and was turned into a feature film in 2014.
“We’ve all worked our whole lives in musical theater and (were) not used to seeing people getting up out of their seats and dancing in the aisles,” Hines said. “When we go back to other shows like ‘Carousel’ and ‘Oklahoma,’ it’s going to be a culture shock.”
The only original member of the Four Seasons no longer living, Massi broke from the group in 1965. But he left a legacy in his bass solos, said Hines, who has been with the show for three years.
“It’s very specific and it’s unique, and people hear it and … even though they might not know the name, the voice is very identifiable,” he said.
Hines called the singer a loving, caring “musical genius” who, even in the Four Seasons’ early days singing on the street, “was designating all the harmonies just off the cuff.”
“He wasn’t using any sheet music, and he could hear them all,” Hines said. “Even when they got into the studios … (songwriter Bob Crewe) was amazed with Nick. He just had a knack for music.
“And I think outside of music, he was struggling to find an identity, so he did a lot of womanizing and a lot of drinking, and that didn’t fulfill him. And he eventually kind of made his way away from the group and surrounded himself with family.”
While Hines’ favorite moment in the show changes from night-to-night, he enjoys performing “Cry for Me,” the first song the Four Seasons sing together on stage. “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” often gets a standing ovation, he added, and audiences really seem to love when the stars perform the group’s iconic songs for the first time.
“It’s palpable,” Hines said. “You can feel people lean forward in that moment.”
Hines described “Jersey Boys” as an underdog story that inspires people and gives them excitement and hope.
“It’s a great lesson for people who dream big, that if you dream big and work hard, you can do it,” he said. “You can make your dreams come true.
“In addition to that, I think it’s a magical experience to walk into a theater and leave your worries and concerns outside and allow yourself to be taken away and entertained by people who are actually in the room.”
— caitlin heaney west
If you go
What: “Jersey Boys,” presented by
Broadway Theater League of Northeastern Pennsylvania
When: Tuesday through Thursday, Jan. 17 to 19, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 20, 8 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 21, 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Jan. 22, 1 and 6:30 p.m.
Where: Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, 420 N. Washington Ave.
Details: Because the show contains “profane Jersey language,” gunshots, smoke and strobe lights, it is recommended for ages 12 and older. It runs about 2 hours, 35 minutes, including intermission. Tickets are $37 to $82, available at the box office, 800-745-3000 and ticketmaster.com. Visit broadwayinscranton.com.