I am the last person in the world who has not seen Jersey Boys, the wildly popular jukebox musical from 2005 that's based on the tumultuous story behind Franki Valli & The Four Seasons.
I was the last person, that is—I got around to seeing it last night.
The occasion was Rory Max Kaplan stepping into the role he usually understudies, that of founding group member Tommy DeVito. I was blown away by Kaplan last year in Nothing But Trash, so I wasn't about to miss his Broadway debut.
Kaplan didn't disappoint. A fine actor and swoon-worthy singer as it is (and the role allows him to show off both talents), he's even more remarkable for his physicality, which informs his performance and gives it a bristling intensity appropriate for a local hood made good who couldn't help pissing away nearly a million bucks in 1960s dollars. When Kaplan delivered sardonic one-liners, they always found their mark, as did the notes in his impressive range, but whenever he slipped into dance, he was even more in his element. The boy doesn't just have moves, he understands and has outstanding control of movement.
Kaplan, Matt Bogart, Domenic Scaglione Jr. & Quinn VanAntwerp
The only criticism I have is that when his character was described as not taking pride in his appearance and wearing underwear three days in a row, it was hard to reconcile that charge while looking at the immaculate triple threat commanding the stage.
After 10 years, things are well-oiled to a fault in Jersey Boys, but the company is on-point, so if you are into the tunes, you will be doing what the people in the front mezzanine were doing—bopping along. I do have to say I was particularly blown away by Quinn VanAntwerp as Bob Gaudio—his vocals were out of this world, and firmly in the one in which the sounds of The Four Seasons were burning up the charts.
At show's end, Kaplan warmly invited me backstage to chat. There, I got to say hello to Frankie J. Galasso, who had stepped into various roles that night ... and who I knew from when I was a teen-mag editor and he was in the boy band Dream Street. Great memories of those boys (who sold very close to a million copies of their album, back when people paid for music), and he was as sweet as ever.
Flashback pic of Frankie, dead center, with Dream Street, cradling the magazine I founded and edited
I await the Dream Street jukebox musical.
While we wait, catch Rory Max Kaplan in the role of Tommy until September 6.