“Jersey Boys” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – January 26, 2019


The Phoenix Theatre Company, Mainstage Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Who doesn’t affectionately remember the Four Seasons huge hits including “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” among others?

The hugely entertaining musical “Jersey Boys” uses the group’s hits to provide a wonderfully entertaining show while it tells the interesting story of the Four Seasons’ rise to stardom and details how the song hits impacted the quartet’s members.  And each of these guys was impacted in different ways by the group’s musical success.

And when the production is fantastically mounted by the newly renamed The Phoenix Theatre Company, the result is a marvelously diverting hit that also tells realistic stories about these diverse musicians, Franki Valli, Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio, and Nick Massi.

Director Larry Raben never lets his fabulous production slow as it explodes all over the stage delivering socko entertainment.  The cast includes four dynamos who play the musicians and each captures the unique characteristics that make each musician diverse.  It is also fascinating how the various personalities impacted the group.

The show focuses on Valli and Justin Albinder’s dynamic personality holds the production together while he delivers Valli’s uniquely high stiletto vocals with assured poise. Tall James D. Gish delivers a vibrant Bob Gaudio, the group’s gifted composer, and Anthony Fortino’s stalwart but errant Tommy DeVito keeps the group’s heart in place.  Tommy McDowell’s Nick Massi contributes musically but is the least devoted quartet member.

Beyond the four leads, the rest of the cast dances choreographer Peggy Hickey’s routines energetically and the ensemble sings superbly.  Matt Zimmerer plays the older person who influences and runs the group from behind.  Terry Gadaire plays the flamboyantly gay group manager, Bob Crewe, with limp-wristed savoir-fare.  A beat throbbing orchestra under Alan Ruch’s expert guidance plays the songs impeccably.

The Phoenix Theatre Company is the local master at producing professional musicals.  The shows never stop as scenery is meticulously choreographed so multiple scene transitions happen smoothly and PTC casts, combining the best of imported professional talent with gifted local entertainers, nets flawless performances that rival Broadway standards.  “Jersey Boys” delivers artful entertainment and continues through March 10.  For tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre Company box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade: A