Fun fact: Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons are one of two American musical groups, besides the Beach Boys, to enjoy musical success before, during and after the British Invasion.
Four Italian-American guys from New Jersey managed to change the music industry, only equipped with talent and a little help from actor Joe Pesci.
The smash musical “Jersey Boys” acts as a dramatization of the early days of the group, recounting their formation, success and eventual breakup.
Actor Eric Chambliss (who plays Four Seasons member Bob Gaudio on this tour) can remember the first time he saw the musical. It was around 2007 or 2008, and he was in Chicago. He immediately fell in love with the show, from the classic music to the depiction of the Four Seasons working to get famous and the eventual fallout from their ambition.
“There’s definitely a reason it’s been on tour for 13 years,” he said. “It’s so well-written, and everyone just has a lot of fun with it, from the audience to the cast and crew. I fell in love with the story initially, but after being in it, I definitely have a new understanding and appreciation for these four guys.”
Cheyenne and Front Range residents have the opportunity to take in the incredible music and the even better story when “Jersey Boys” hits the stage at the Cheyenne Civic Center on May 25.
As noted, the show is a recounting (and dramatized) version of the Four Seasons’ story. It’s broken into four parts or “seasons” (get it?), where each member of the group – Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, Frankie Valli and Nick Massi – takes turns narrating the story, giving his own perspective on their history and music.
The Four Seasons (also known as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons) formed in the early 1950s, originally performing under the name “The Four Lovers.” They didn’t find much success until 1961, after they’d changed their name to “The Four Seasons” after a bowling alley where they’d failed at an audition. They reached the pinnacle of their fame in the mid-1960s with hits such as “December 1963 (Oh What a Night),” “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.”
While members have come and gone through the decades, Gaudio and Valli still retain ownership rights to the group. Gaudio doesn’t perform live anymore, but Valli does, even appearing in Denver earlier this year. They are considered one of the bestselling musical groups of all time, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
The musical came about in the mid-2000s, when Gaudio began trying to create a show out of the group’s discography. He hired two book writers, who then suggested to him that they try to make a musical out of the group’s history, rather than an original story set to their music, like “Mamma Mia!” with ABBA’s work.
“Jersey Boys” debuted on Broadway in 2005 to critical and commercial success. It was nominated for a number of Tony Awards the following year, taking home four, including best musical. It also won a Grammy award in 2007 for “best musical show album.” It was also adapted into a 2014 film directed by Clint Eastwood.
To play Gaudio successfully, Chambliss credited the script’s tight, precise writing for helping him get into the composer’s head.
“I’m so inspired by the way these guys fought to become successful,” he said. “It’s all based on passion and drive. I don’t know if there could be a repeat of their story, at least not in the same way that they clawed their way to the top. Bob is such a great businessman, and I definitely think his work helped them get to where they are.”