Thursday, October 15, 2009
I spent last weekend in Las Vegas with Les, Joce and Jojo. One of the things I enjoyed most was watching … no, not just watching … but actually experiencing the Broadway musical “Jersey Boys” at the Palazzo Hotel. Although I was fighting a cold, was feeling tired, was quite sleepy before the show (since we watched the last show of the evening), and we had seats that were almost at the end of the mezzanine section, nothing could dampen my enthusiasm for the show. It was a really AMAZING theater experience! The show was over 2 hours long but I felt the whole performance just flew by.
Jersey Boys is about the 60’s group, The Four Seasons. It is a story of a group of New Jersey blue-collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks, their lives and their struggles, their almost meteoric rise to fame, and how they became one of the biggest American pop music sensations in history. The group wrote their own songs, had their own unique blend of sound, choreographed their own moves, and sold 175 million records around the world. For the younger generation, the group (Four Seasons) may not exactly ring a bell as much as other 60’s music icons like The Beatles or Elvis Presley. But trust me when you hear some of their songs you will know exactly who they are! Songs that have stood the test of time - such as “Sherry," “Walk Like a Man”, "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," "Oh, What a Night" and more.
What I loved most about the play was the energy the cast brought to the stage. The whole experience made you feel like you were part of the show and not a distant by-stander. I guess that’s why I love theater – and good theater productions - because I always feel involved in the story and not just part of the audience. The musical performances were flawless. The actors were terrific at bringing iconic characters to life and even better at capturing the harmonizing tones that is truly a trademark of The Four Seasons. Aside from the actors, kudos also to the show’s writers, musical score director, and backstage crew. Their work transported the audience back and forth between emotional highs. There were instances where we laughed at funny lines, cried at sad scenes, empathized with emotions the characters portrayed or simply tapped our feet and clapped our hands to the catchy doo-wop music.
I also loved the intimate feel of the theater at the Palazzo. Seating about 2,000 people, it was large enough without being cavernous and intimate enough without being claustrophobic. I have watched many productions in a variety of theaters and can honestly say that the right theater atmosphere can literally make or break a show. The Palazzo did it right (comfortable seats, ample legroom, great view of the stage from every seat, the right temperature, and enough ushers to make sure the show started on time). I guess my only complaint would be the 8-minute intermission (timed on screen and without the customary dinging bell that signals the show is about to start). It was too-short a break to really do anything other than stretch your legs. For some that ventured to the lobby restrooms it meant a mad scramble to their seats in a darkened theater with the play underway.
Other than that, as the song says, “Oh What a Night” it truly was. And needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), if you should have the chance to watch a production of Jersey Boys, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND it. Just be warned that their songs play in your head (over and over!) even days after you leave the theater!