JERSEY BOYS * Book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice * Music by Bob Gaudio * Lyrics by Bob Crewe * Directed by Des McAnuff * August Wilson Theatre, New York City (open-ended run).

The smash hit of the Broadway musical season isnít the well-meaning but unmoving adaptation of The Color Purple or Andrew Lloyd Webberís leaden The Woman in White Ė itís Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The show took Broadway by surprise. Nobody expected much more than another jukebox musical for undiscriminating baby boomers, driven by a bunch of pre-sold hit songs from the Ď60s. But it turns out to be several leagues better than duds like Lennon, Good Vibrations, and All Shook Up. Itís actually got a smart book, written by Marshall Brickman (who co-wrote two of Woody Allenís best movies) and Rick Elice, and the cast is excellent, especially John Lloyd Young, who eerily replicates Frankie Valliís endearingly freaky falsetto, and Christian Hoff, a star-in-the-making who narrates the show as Tommy DeVito, the groupís founder and resident bad-boy. Whatís extra-cool is that the show acknowledges the gay guy who was instrumental to the Four Seasonís success, producer and lyricist Bob Crewe (played by Peter Gregus), without needing to camp him up or put him down. Both the script and the actors have been whipped into shape by director Des McAnuff, whoís always great at staging both male bonding and authentic rock music. His best work since The Whoís Tommy, Jersey Boys is also the most exciting backstage musical since Dreamgirls.

The Advocate, January 31, 2006