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Chill to the Thrills of SRT’s Jersey Boys

Reveling in air-conditioned comfort to an iconic musical group’s sizzling hits and equally sensational back-story is as good as summer theater gets.

With its current production of Jersey Boys playing through the end of August at Columbia State Park’s Fallon House Theatre, Sierra Repertory Theatre (SRT) clearly has a hot summer hit on its hands that audiences can further top off with a visit to the venue’s in-house ice cream parlor.

A Tony Award-winning jukebox musical that enjoyed one of Broadway’s longest runs (something like a dozen years) before being retooled for Off-Broadway and regional theatres, SRT’s rendition is infused with impressive talent.

Celebrating the roller-coaster career and “story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons,” the show’s cast believably channels the members’ colorful and somewhat conflicting recollections. Revealing the vocal quartet’s humble and somewhat thuggish origins from within the northern New Jersey housing projects, their fascinating rags-to-riches ascent bedeviled by mob ties and gambling and substance addictions is a tale of true talent, tenacity, and enduring friendship.

Superbly punctuated with stellar choreographed music cameo performances the production features over two dozen chart-toppers and a crowd-pleasing grand finale. “Sherry,” “Oh, What A Night,” “Earth Angel,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Rag Dolls,” “Dawn,” and “My Eyes Adored You” are among the sing-along hits to hear.

Clever Casting Coup 

SRT Artistic Director Jerry Lee, who directs the production, tapped Jersey Boys National Tour veteran Ben Bogen, a California native,  to serve as associate director and choreographer. They further recruited cast members with previous  Jersey Boys experience; some making their West Coast and/or SRT debuts in reprising their roles.

One of these is New York City-based actor, singer/songwriter Adam Marino, who previously played Frankie Valli in at least three other Jersey Boys productions. He fully embodies Frankie’s evolving character from an awkward, naive teen street singer to a stalwart, self-assured bandleader.  Marino’s more than impressive voice and soaring high tenor is a thrill to hear. It makes sense to learn that among other past gigs was singing for a time with chart-topping 1950’s vocal quartet  The Diamonds (“Little Darlin,” “The Stroll”).

As Four Seasons’ lynch-pin keyboardist and hit songwriter Bob Gaudio, New York-based Quinn Corcoran also oozes with musical talent and youthful energy. Matt Michael, another Jersey Boys vet who has previously worked with Marino, reprises his take on co-founder Tommy DeVito, the talented and clearly shady guitarist and resident troublemaker. Tennessee native Bobby Guenther rounds out the main players with his performance of Nick Massi, the band’s bassist, also credited with creating many of the vocal arrangements that came to define the Four Seasons’ unique sound.

While juggling several roles, the balance of the cast dance, sing, shape-shift and cleverly help expedite moving the sets. Among them is SRT’s Charlie Munday who portrays flamboyant record producer Bob Crewe. As important to the show as the Four Seasons actors is an electrifying trio of multi-role-playing females: SRT regular Camryn Elias, Alexandra Shepherd (Marino’s real-life wife) and Taylor Tveten. In addition to portraying at least one key side character, they truly slay; singing, shimmying and shaking their way through what must be dozens of background parts and lightning-quick wardrobe and wig changes.

Jersey Boys runs through August 27 with twice-weekly evening performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 6:30. Four weekly heat-beating afternoon matinees are offered Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. and Wednesday at noon. For more details and tickets, visit https://www.sierrarep.org/

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