It’s the show and the music that just won’t quit. Congratulations to the cast and crew of the hit musical “Jersey Boys” at Paris Las Vegas, which tonight celebrates its 3,000th performance on the Las Vegas Strip.
It’s one singular sensation, truly a miracle achievement and milestone. The documentary-styled jukebox musical dramatizes the formation, success and eventual breakup of the top of the charts 1960s group The Four Seasons.
It’s the story of a group of blue-collar New Jersey boys who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, yet became worldwide pop sensations. How can you not forget Frankie Valli’s sensational hits “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Oh What a Night,” “Sherry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Rag Doll” and more.
The original, out of town tryout began 11 years ago this month at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego. New York previews on Broadway began 10 years ago this month, and that production recently celebrated 5,000th performances.
Locally, “Jersey Boys” and its 34 scenes began its life at Palazzo in the specially built Jersey Boys Theater on May 3, 2008, and moved to the Paris in March 2012. Its sister shows play in London, Chicago, Toronto, Singapore, Australia, South Africa and the Netherlands.
Clint Eastwood presented the film version of the musical, and former Las Vegas cast member Erich Bergen played Bob Gaudio in the film. Today, actors Travis Cloer and Graham Fenton alternate the role of high-pitched Frankie to ensure that their voices aren’t wrecked in our desert climate dryness.
Travis has become a star in his own right since moving to Las Vegas. On Wednesday, I wrote about his new Christmas album and Smith Center concerts.
Recent cast changes have brought in Jason Kappus as Bob Gaudio, Jason Martinez as Nick Massi, Daniel Sullivan as Las Vegas resident Tommy DeVito, Joe Barbara as Gyp DeCarlo, John Salvatore as Bob Crewe, Erik Bates as Norm Waxman and actress-dancers Candi Boyd, Sarah Emick, Lauren Tartaglia, Nikka Wahl and dance captain Sarah Lowe.
The Las Vegas show’s musical composer and orchestra conductor, Keith Thompson, is still with the long-running production and is developing the new work “Idaho: The Musical” that will launch at the Smith Center next summer.
“Jersey Boys” star and songwriter Bob Gaudio has been a friend of mine on Broadway since the early 1970s when I published my GO Magazine for Top 40 radio stations coast to coast. The first time I interviewed him at length for Vegas DeLuxe was on May 4, 2009. In March 2013 when he flew here for its fifth anniversary, he told me:
“It’s too difficult for us to analyze why and how we have lasted so long. Nothing was premeditated with that in mind. We just did what we were comfortable doing. Everybody wants recognition, but for it to get to the point where it may never end.
“ … All we can say is that we are very fortunate. Our songs have been in many films over the years, so that’s carried us through. Frankie is still out touring, and new versions of our old songs released — Lauryn Hill, ‘Dirty Dancing’ — have kept us there to reach generation after generation.”