‘Jersey Boys’ returns to Denver’s Buell Theater with gusto
July 23, 2012 | 12:00 am
(Updated: February 22, 2013 | 7:25 pm)
Jersey Boys is a musical that tells the story of a group of blue collar guys who became one of the most popular American pop musical groups of all time. These guys invented a whole new sound, wrote their own music and lyrics and sold more than 175 million records – yes, records! – while they were still young enough to enjoy their earnings. The group was, of course, Franki Valli and The Four Seasons.
Thanks to the producers at Denver Center Attractions, the mega-hit Broadway musical is back and better than ever, playing at The Buell Theatre through August 11.
The production team is full of superb artists – including Howell Binkley, who won the 2006 Tony Award for his lighting design of Jersey Boys. The production also won the 2006 Best Musical Tony Award, the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album, the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Musical and the Australian 2010 Helpmann Award for Best Musical.
The last time Jersey Boys played The Buell, around 90,000 theatergoers packed the theatre with standing room only crowds. Whether or not you got a chance to have your socks blown off by this megahit, it behooves one and all to rush to the theatre box office now. This is the kind of musical that attracts people who haven’t seen a production in years.
Out Front has been honored with a few words from actor Barry Anderson, who plays Bob Crewe in this touring company’s production. A music graduate from the University of Wisconsin, Anderson has been seen on Broadway in Legally Blonde, and has toured for Legally Blonde and My Fair Lady. He has appeared on television in 30 Rock and As the World Turns.
How does touring with Jersey Boys stack up with the other touring musicals you’ve done in the past?
It’s been fun bringing this completely new, exciting story to different areas of the country. Our schedule has included some nice lengthy stints in some great cities like Denver. The last time I was here with a show, it was cold and snowy. So I’m looking forward to this visit; it’s hard to beat the summers in Colorado.
How is the show received by audiences?
It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I don’t think any of us were quite prepared for the intense ovation after our first preview performance in Philadelphia last December. It was amazing. And it’s continued in every city we’ve played since then. I think a lot of it has to do with how strongly the music resonates with everyone. For a lot of folks, it’s a very personal and nostalgic journey. Jersey Boys has some very die-hard fans! I met a woman at the stage door in Atlanta a few weeks ago who proudly told me that it was her 37th time seeing the show.
What’s the biggest challenge for an actor in a jukebox musical like this?
One of the biggest challenges in any long-running show is keeping the performance fresh every night. But that’s also why doing eight shows a week is so exciting. It is a living, breathing, ever-changing medium. It’s surprising how much focus and concentration it actually takes to appear spontaneous. I like to remind myself that most of the audience has never experienced the show before. Our task as actors is to infuse each performance with the same energy and focus as we had on opening night.
And the greatest reward?
The obvious ‘built-in’ thrill for us onstage in a show like this is watching the audience respond to all the music they already know and love. But beyond that, my biggest pleasure is having the chance to help tell a true story. We in the cast all learned a ton during rehearsals for this show. And I’m continuing to learn more and more; each of our characters were real people. Even though most audiences come to the show already knowing the big hits, the vast majority of them know very little about the story behind the music. They end up leaving the theatre with a new appreciation for the ‘rags to riches’ nature of the story.
Jersey Boys took home the 2006 Tony Award for Best Musical, and I think the reasons why are very clear to everyone who gets a chance to see the show. I’m proud to be a part of it, and I am so excited to be bringing it to Denver.
Jersey Boys is now showing at the Buell Theatre through August 11.
Online at http://denvercenter.org or call (303) 893.4100.