February 15, 2010

'Jersey Boys' unveils the climate behind the Seasons

Charles Runnels has a preview of the Jersey Boys national tour, which will be running at Mann Hall in Fort Myers beginning Wednesday February 17 through March 7.

Runnels talks to Jersey Boys writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, in addition to cast members Joseph Leo Bwarie (Frankie Valli) and Steve Gouveia (Nick Massi) about the show, The Four Seasons, and more!

They seemed the least likely guys to bring The Four Seasons to Broadway.

Ad man Rick Elice knew practically nothing about the ’60s pop band.

“I knew Frankie Valli was the guy with the really high voice,” says Elice, 53. “And I knew the song ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ from the movie ‘The Deer Hunter.’

“I was certainly no expert.” Screenwriter Marshall Brickman knew even less.

“I called up Marshall,” Elice says, “and I said, ‘What do you think about a musical about the Four Seasons?’

“And he said, ‘I love Vivaldi!’” Elice pauses for comedic effect.

“That’s how perfectly suited we were for this,” he says.
And yet, somehow, it all worked. Elice and Brickman wrote a megahit.

“Jersey Boys” opened to critical raves in 2005 and quickly started packing the house at Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre. Then it won four 2006 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

The musical comes to Mann Hall next week.

The show does particularly well in Florida, Elice says — partly because of the state’s many baby boomers, and partly because of its large population of former New Jersey residents.

“I think it’s the witness protection program,” Elice jokes, referring to the gangsters in “Jersey Boys.”

Yes, gangsters. That’s just one of the things that compelled Elice and Brickman to write the musical.

Elice had never dreamed of writing about the Four Seasons. And then, one day, a band representative contacted him and pitched the idea.

Soon Elice and Brickman met Valli and Seasons keyboardist Bob Gaudio for lunch, and the writers marveled at the band’s riveting history: brushes with police, jail time, gambling debts, the mob, betrayals, band fights and — of course — their rocket-ride to fame in the ’60s.

Elice and Brickman were sold. They wanted to tell a story that few people knew — despite the fact that the Four Seasons had tons of hits, including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man” and “Rag Doll.”

“They’d never been written about,” Elice says. “They were blue-collar boys without the glamour.

{Via News-Press.com}

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