Jersey Boys is a buffed and shiny thing, an entertainment machine greased with pomade whose engine hums in four-part harmony. Every component of this jukebox musical about the Four Seasons—from the mechanized set changes to the 34 musical numbers—is engineered to make time disappear.
It begins with some poor Italian toughs—including the fresh-faced Frankie Valli (Christopher Kale Jones)—who divide their time between burglary and singing under streetlamps. They're romantic artist-thugs, blithely drifting in and out of jail and breaking into churches just to accompany themselves on the organ and teach young Valli to sing.
Then the inevitable walk around the jukebox-musical Stations of the Cross: the struggle, the rise, the plateau, the fall. (It's a soft fall. Most of the Four Seasons are still alive and some are still working in the music business.) And, in between, street-corner pop with Valli's space-age falsetto: "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man," etc.
Jersey Boys is predictable, but relentlessly entertaining. The four boys are dynamic types—the tough guy, the fresh-faced heartthrob, the cerebral musician (Bob Gaudio, who wrote the summer hit "Short Shorts" when he was 15 years old), the guy who's just tagging along—and the performances are seamless.
But the cleverness at the heart of Jersey Boys is the way it congratulates its audience on their just-folks good taste:
"We weren't a social movement like the Beatles," one of the Seasons explains. "Our fans didn't put flowers in their hair and try to levitate the Pentagon. Our people were the guys who were shipped overseas, and their sweethearts. They were the factory workers, the truck drivers. The kids pumping gas, flipping burgers. The pretty girl with circles under her eyes behind the counter at the diner. They're the ones who really got us, who pushed us over the top."
Jersey Boys isn't cheap (tickets run between $30 to $90), but today's gas pumpers and burger flippers can do the musical one better—drive out to the bluff, put the Four Seasons in the car stereo, and neck.