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Jersey Boys, the origin story of how four Italian-American guys from Belleville, N.J., became Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, rocked Little Rock's Robinson Center Performance Hall on Friday night.

The opening show in Celebrity Attractions' 2018-19 season of touring productions pulls no punches and from top to bottom is just as raucous as the lives of its principals.

Their rise from four guys singing on a street corner to hit-making fame and fortune and their eventual, perhaps inevitable fall is told with panache, a whole concert full of songs (not just those of the Four Seasons -- music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe -- but of their early contemporaries) and, in the book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, a very great deal of authentic "profane Jersey language."

Each member of the original band -- Valli (Jonny Wexler), Gaudio (Eric Chambliss), Tommy DeVito (Corey Greenan) and Nick Massi (Jonathan Cable) -- gets his own stage "season" and a chance to tell his side of that part of the story.

The chemistry, acting-wise and vocally, between the four of them and between the dozen ensemble actors creating subsidiary characters and also serving as the stage crew, is amazing. The show neatly crafts the story of the band with the music they created, including telling how many of the songs were born.

And those songs were top hits, every one -- "Walk Like a Man," which, of course, brings down the house; "Sherry"; "Big Girls Don't Cry"; "My Eyes Adored You"; "C'mon Marianne" and its companion number, "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You"; "Rag Doll"; "Oh, What a Night." There's even a list in the program (which also offers a portrait of the actual original Four Seasons) of "The Ones That Got Away," Four Seasons hits that didn't make the show, including "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore." A six-piece stage band provides the actual musical backing.

Fine performances in support include Rick Desloge's portrayal of Joe Pesci (yes, that Joe Pesci, then a kid from the neighborhood who played a part in making a trio a quartet), Wade Dooley as producer/songwriter Crewe and Chloe Tiso, who has the distinction of playing both Valli's mom and his daughter, Francine.

The performance has no dead spots, though there were some dead, or almost dead, spotlight moments, leaving performers on their marks but in the dark. A glitch in the projection system created an occasional distracting electronic "ghost." You'll find that the volume level does rise, almost to rock concert level, in the second act as the music evolves from rock and roll to rock 'n' roll.

And parents of kids 12 and younger and for folks with delicate sensibilities, be advised: When they say the show features authentic "profane Jersey language," they mean it.

Jersey Boys will be onstage again at 2 and 7:30 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Sunday at Robinson, 426 W. Markham St. at Broadway. Ticket information is available by calling (501) 244-8800 or online at Ticketmaster.com.

Metro on 10/13/2018

Print Headline: Jersey Boys rocking out at Robinson

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