Star of ‘Jersey Boys’ is real-life Jersey boyWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
A real-life Jersey boy will be among the leading men to hit the stage when “Jersey Boys” comes to Toledo starting Feb. 7.
Brad Weinstock, who portrays Frankie Valli in the Tony Award-winning musical, was born and raised in northeastern New Jersey and now calls Hoboken, N.J., outside New York City, home when he’s not on tour.
“Jersey Boys,” the story of legendary music group The Four Seasons, portrays the ups, downs and coming-of-age experiences of four blue-collar kids — Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi — from their starts on the streets of New Jersey through their rise to singing stardom.
Although the two come from different backgrounds, Weinstock said home state pride helps him identify with The Four Seasons’ frontman.
“Being from Jersey I have a unique, innate connection to him, but he’s from a pretty rough and tumble area of New Jersey,” the 27-year-old told Toledo Free Press Star during a tour stop in Dayton. “I would be exaggerating if I said I was from the streets like he was, but I think a lot of people from Jersey have major state pride. Also, as someone who is still touring at age 77 right now, we have that in common. Just a love of what you’re doing — the singing and the performing. You submit yourself to this life on the road, but you love it because it’s the only thing you’ve ever known.”
“Jersey Boys” opens in Toledo at 8 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd., as part of the Broadway Series presented by the Theater League. It will run through Feb. 26.
“It’s been going great,” Weinstock said of the tour. “We opened in Philadelphia Dec. 9 so we haven’t been going that long. It’s a pretty new production, but we’ve had great audiences in Philadelphia and Dayton’s been great as well. We’re excited to get over to Toledo.”
The show is divided into four “seasons,” each narrated by a different band member to showcase four different perspectives on the events portrayed, Weinstock said.
Valli’s high singing voice was instrumental to the success of The Four Seasons, Weinstock said.
“His unique voice, his freakish ability to sing in this falsetto, which is what he ultimately became so famous for, was a unique sound people hadn’t heard before,” Weinstock said. “A man singing that high was the hook that differentiated The Four Seasons from the other four-person groups at the time.”
“Jersey Boys” is full of hit songs from The Four Seasons, including “December 1963 (Oh, What A Night),” “Working My Way Back To You,” “Who Loves You,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Sherry” and more.
Weinstock, the understudy for the role of Valli in the Las Vegas production of “Jersey Boys” last year, said people usually come to the show for the music, but end up loving the story as well.
“I think people initially come because of all these hit songs that people are very familiar with, but then I think what they don’t expect is it’s a fascinating story about these four guys who came from the wrong side of the tracks and went on to become one of the top-selling groups in rock music history,” Weinstock said. “They did not take an easy way to the top. It was not a straight line to success. There were definitely a lot of ups and downs. It’s really an intriguing story.”
Weinstock, who graduated from Northwestern University with degrees in theater and communications, was first hooked on theater when he was about 10 years old, after trying it on a whim while bored at summer camp.
Weinstock said his favorite part of portraying Valli comes near the end of the show.
“You’d be hard-pressed to talk to someone who has played Frankie Valli who doesn’t love singing ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,’” Weinstock said. “It’s near the end of the night and all the action has built up to that song, so people are really excited to hear that. It’s a great moment.”
“Jersey Boys” contains smoke, gunshots, strobe lights, drug references, sexual situations and profane “authentic Jersey language” and is not recommended for all ages, according to the show’s website. Tickets range from $33-$128 and are available by calling the Stranahan Theater box office at 866-381-7469, Ticketmaster at 800-982-2787 or online at www.theaterleague.com. For more information, visit www.jerseyboysinfo.com.