Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Oh What A Night: Jersey Boys In London

Oh What A Night: Jersey Boys In London

Nearly 45 years after the storied British Invasion of The Beatles, which knocked Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons from their pop chart pedestal, a reverse American invasion begins this evening in London as the Tony-winning Jersey Boys enjoys its first night at the West End's Prince Edward Theatre.

When I saw this jukebox musical shortly after it opened on Broadway in 2005 (and prior to my ever writing SOB), I was left pretty dry. I thought, "Is that it?!" Don't get me wrong, I loved the music, but thought the show was mediocre at best.

While I could blame it on the fact that John Lloyd Young (as Valli) was already skipping Friday night performances long before his Tony nod, I actually thought his understudy Michael Longoria was the best thing about the show (Longoria officially replaced Young in the coveted role last November). In my eyes, Young certainly didn't acquit himself when upon receiving the 2006 Tony for Best Actor in a Musical, he didn't even bother to mention Valli.

Another Tony issue that didn't help in how I still perceive the show is that it won Best Musical. My view is that your show shouldn't be eligible for the big prize if it can't even be nominated for "Best Original Score."

Most importantly, I found the story to be less than satisfying. And while I'm no prude, the show was unusually crass and unexpectedly vulgar for its 50s motif.

So how will British critics respond? More importantly, will the West End Whingers be applauding? I hope to have answers to at least the first question in my critics' capsule tomorrow.

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Longoria To Formally Assume Lead In Jersey Boys (November 10, 2007)
Longoria Back To The Peak As Valli (October 20, 2006)
The Curse Of The Understudy (October 2, 2006)
The Tonys: If I Could Vote...for Best Musical (May 31, 2006)

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At 18 March, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have met John Lloyd Young and he's very nice and goes out of his way to sign autographs and pose for photographs with fans. Before he got his big break in Jersey Boys, he used to be a "stagedoor johnny" and collect autographs from Broadway stars so he goes out of his way to be nice to fans.

At 18 March, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

BB, Glad to hear he's a nice guy. That goes a long way.

At 19 March, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strange that you should mention John Lloyd Young's Tony speech which brought me and my family to tears when he talked about his father, who was a widower shortly after he was born. I didn't even think that he didn't mention Valli...I was totally impressed at how he dedicated his Tony to his father. I have written Young numerous times and he responds. You should read his blog and go to the Jersey Boys Blog fan page. You will see how much his fans adore him because of who he is. Too bad you missed him in the show. I have seen the show a lot, and the show was always the best when he was Frankie.

At 19 March, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Anonymous, Thanks for sharing your perspective.

I have no doubt that John Lloyd Young is a talented performer given his television appearances on behalf of the show. And like you, I was moved by his acceptance speech tribute to his father - I just found it very strange that he didn't acknowledge the man who made his award possible, for without Frankie Valli and his inspiration, there would be no Jersey Boys.

Finally, I know I'm most definitely in the minority when it comes to enjoying Jersey Boys. Glad you weighed in!

At 27 March, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although it is unfortunate that you missed John Lloyd Young in the show, you make it sound like he irresponsibly missed performances whenever he felt like it. He was the only performer required to sing 8 shows a week the first year of Jersey Boys, and now not a single one of the people playing Frankie Valli has to sing that difficult score 8 shows a week. Mr. Young showed up at the theatre as much as was humanly possible. The leads of Jersey Boys everywhere, now even across the globe, only have to sing 6 shows a week. Young was the production's guinea pig until they came to their senses and realized that it should be a 6-show-a-week role. I saw John Lloyd Young in Jersey Boys, and I think it's silly to say he was ungracious in his Tony speech. He thanked Frankie Valli for years by playing him beautifully on stage. And in the Jersey Boys book that can be bought anywhere, he says wonderful things about the man. Please examine in yourself whether you're attacking Mr. Young justly or that it's just that you were very disappointed he was out the night you saw the show.

At 27 March, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Trust me, as much as I regret not having had a chance to see Mr. Young perform, I enjoyed Michael Longoria.

As for his acceptance speech, I stand by my earlier comments that there would have been no Tony for him had it not been for Frankie Valli. But I chalk it up to nerves akin to Hillary Swank forgetting to thank her own husband.

At 27 March, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Oh, by the way, it used to be in an era before performers had the luxury of microphones that stars would show up and never miss a single performance. Check out Ethel Merman's track record.

At 29 March, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stars like Merman had a average of about 5 songs per role. Even Mama Rose in Gypsy, Merman's biggest, most difficult role, had only 7 songs. It is so tiresome to read that modern performers are not up to snuff, and further frustrating for people to include anyone playing Frankie in Jersey Boys in that group. Nowadays people are singing aggressive rock songs on Broadway and in Jersey Boys, it's nearly two dozen for the guys playing Frankie. They're retrofitting voices for songs meant to be sung in a studio setting, and never intended to be sung 8 shows a week. John Lloyd Young won a Tony because of his unwavering commitment and dedication to his show, and probably because he survived what many thought was an impossible score to sing. And his recognition came with multiple awards from the entire community of Broadway insiders. Insiders who know the history of people like Merman better than any of us do, because some of them were there working with Merman, herself. People like that, including hard-core Broadway purists, do not hand out multiple awards to someone with a reputation for slacking. The kid won every possible award, which means he probably earned them. He has a reputation in the Broadway community for having one of the best work ethics of any modern Broadway actor. So your aside about Merman, meant to disparage people playing Frankie in Jersey Boys, is, in my opinion, not thoroughly thought-out. You don't have to like Jersey Boys, but at least give props where props are due.

At 29 March, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Hard to give props when the performer was missing.

At 07 May, 2009, Anonymous Cheap Jersey Boys Tickets said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 07 May, 2009, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Blatant advertising is not allowed on this site.

At 17 July, 2009, Anonymous Jersey Boys Tickets said...

Yes man they are the best ever i watch on show


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