‘Jersey Boys’ at the Engeman Theater will have you dancing all night...

‘Jersey Boys’ at the Engeman Theater will have you dancing all night long

By Julianne Mosher

The Engeman Theater’s latest production of Jersey Boys will have you singing, dancing and laughing all night long. Based on the life and music of The Four Seasons and Frankie Valli, the show is set in 1960s New Jersey as we follow the four Italian boys through the successes and struggles of reaching, and fulfilling, fame. 

Written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, the show is presented almost like a documentary (as it’s based on a true story) with each member giving their perspectives of the band’s history. We start off with Tommy DeVito (Nick Bernardi) and his original group, The Variety Trio, which included his brother, Nick DeVito (Justin Wolfe Smith) and his close friend, Nick Massi (Stephen Cerf). The three perform in clubs, while also participating in some questionable and illegal activity. 

There, they meet a young kind who sits in the shadows of the club and sings along. Frankie Valli (Joey Lavarco) and Tommy brings him up on stage. With his high soprano voice and large range, Lavarco can easily be mistaken for the original Frankie Valli — an impressive talent that not everyone on that stage could do. 

While Frankie starts to enjoy singing with the trio, the trio each get thrown in the slammer until Tommy is eventually freed where he joins with Frankie again to continue working on music and finding their identity as a new group (Tommy’s brother quits).

While this is all happening, we see the love story between Frankie and his girlfriend-then-wife Francine (Katelyn Harold) and the relationship that Tommy has with a mobster friend, Gyp DeCarlo (Mike Keller). While in supporting roles (the two play other parts sporadically throughout the show) the fluidity of their change in character is astonishing. To go from a mobster, to an accountant, to a music industry executive in one act is a grand feat. 

Eventually, a young Joe Pesci — yes, the actor — played by Loren Stone, introduces Frankie, Tommy and Nick Massi to a young songwriter who was known for his hit single, “Short Shorts,” named Bob Gaudino (Sean McGee). The trio found their missing piece, and although they couldn’t figure out a name, they were great at writing songs together. 

But they visit every record company in the city and finally land a deal with the flamboyantly hysterical Bob Crewe (Jonathan Cobrda) who signs them as background singers for other artists. Eventually, they get a sign from above (literally, a sign), that determines their new, and last, name. The Four Seasons and they pitch new music to Crewe who hears hits which then get the four Jersey Boys on the map.

With favorites like, “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and “Walk Like a Man,” if someone in the audience closed their eyes, they’d truly think they’re listening to the actual Four Seasons on the radio. Bernardi, Cerf, Lavarco and McGee’s harmonies synch together well and they look the part with beautifully, and historically accurate, curated costumes by Dustin Cross. 

From then on, the second act shows more of the struggles the four experiences as their fame and fortune get bigger. Through a lot of comedy, and some somber moments, the show will definitely keep you on your toes and singing the whole drive home. 

Directed by Paul Stancato, the set was minimal, but the perfect setting for so many different locations. A simple backdrop of warehouse doors and two spiral staircases, the ensemble perfects going from Jersey, to Manhattan, to on the road, to an apartment, to a club all with ease. 

So, what are you waiting for? The Engeman’s production is a slice of Broadway placed in Northport and it’ll have you thinking, “Oh, What a Night.”

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents Jersey Boys through May 26. For tickets or more information, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.