Inside the Icon: 'Jersey Boys'
The award-winning musical got its starts at the La Jolla Playhouse and returns to San Diego this month
San Diego Civic Theatre
1100 Third Avenue, Downtown
A Singing Start
Original Four Seasons member Bob Gaudio came up with the concept of telling the group’s history through its discography, and hired Rick Elice and Oscar-winner Marshall Brickman to write it. At the recommendation of New York’s Dodger Theatricals, Gaudio hired La Jolla Playhouse’s then artistic director Des McAnuff—a musician himself—who also helped develop the piece. As it turns out, the first album McAnuff ever bought was the Four Seasons’ Sherry & 11 Others.
By the Numbers
The show ran at the Playhouse from October 5, 2004 through January 16, 2005, with a total of 120 performances—their longest running production, followed by The Who’s Tommy, which racked up 108. It’s said to be their biggest box office draw since the 1997 production of Rent, and remains the 12th longest running show in Broadway history.
The show opened on Broadway on November 6, 2005. In attendance were original Four Seasons crooners Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, and Tommy DeVito, as well as Joe Pesci, who’s also represented in the cast thanks to his real-life role in the band’s rise to fame.
New York actor John Lloyd Young originally auditioned for the part of guitarist Tommy DeVito for the Playhouse show, but McAnuff considered him better suited for the role of Frankie Valli. In the end, McAnuff selected David Noroña for the part, but Young eventually got his due—when McAnuff offered him the Valli role in the Broadway run. Though McAnuff told the New York Times in 2005 that Young “had done work on his voice and was very well prepared for the audition,” rumors swirled that that iconic Frankie Valli falsetto came with help from two cast members singing high notes from the wings.
Show Me the Money
The Pelican Group—a local investment firm founded by biotech magnate Ivor Royston that counts various members of the illustrious Jacobs family among its members—helped bankroll the production. The group received producer credit, and Royston picked up a statue when the show won the Tony for Best Musical in 2006 during its Broadway run.
The Broadway rendition earned four Tonys, for Best Musical, Actor in a Musical (John Lloyd Young), Featured Actor in a Musical (San Diego native Christian Hoff), and Lighting Design of a Musical (Howell Binkley).