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Theatre / Jersey Boys

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Jersey Boys is a slightly documentary-ish Jukebox Musical telling the story of the four signature band members of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, their lives, their rise to fame, and where they are today. The story provides many good excuses to feature many of the Four Seasons' hit songs.

Debuting on Broadway in late 2005, the show has won four Tony Awards (Best Musical, Best Leading Actor in a Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Musical, and Best Lighting) and as of 2014, has become the 13th longest running show on Broadway. It has had production runs in London's West End, Las Vegas, Chicago, Toronto, Melbourne, Sydney, Philadelphia, Auckland, Brisbane, and several popular runs in Tokyo. A film adaptation directed by Clint Eastwood, starring John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli (reprising his Tony-winning role), Vincent Piazza as Tommy DeVito, Erich Bergen as Bob Gaudio, Michael Lomenda as Nick Massi, and none other than Christopher Walken as mob boss Gyp DeCarlo was released in 2014. On September 6, 2016, it was announced that the Broadway production would close on January 15, 2017 and that Mark Ballas would be the final Frankie Valli beginning October 18, 2016.


  • Artistic License: Although the film is largely accurate, a good deal of creative liberties were taken with the timelines.
    • In one scene, Frankie sings "My Eyes Adore You" to a 7-year-old Francine in what appears to be the mid-1960s. The song was co-written in 1974 by Bob Crewe, and not by Valli.
    • Francine is depicted to have died sometime in the mid-1970s; she, in fact, died in 1980.
    • "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" is recorded as a new song in another mid-'70s scene, shortly after Francine's death, when it was, in fact, released by Frankie Valli in 1967 as a solo recording. One can say it might have flipped timelines with the aforementioned "My Eyes Adore You," incidentally another Valli solo release.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: A large part of the show involves the four members of the group frequently breaking the fourth wall to narrate their point of view.
  • But Not Too White: The band gets rejected by the one record label that enjoyed their demo because they're not a colored group.
  • Camp Gay: Producer and lyricist Bob Crewe is depicted this way.
    • No Bisexuals: The real life Bob Crewe identified as bisexual, however.
  • Control Freak: Tommy likes everything being done his way and is not happy when Bob starts to take more control of the group as they go mainstream.
  • Dance Party Ending: The stage show ends with "Who Loves You" as performed by the full company. While the movie version is more aptly described as a biopic with music, the end credits shows off its musical roots with "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" performed by the movie's full cast.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Frankie singing "My Mother's Eyes" reduces tough mobster Gyp DeCarlo to Inelegant Blubbering.
  • Familiar Soundtrack, Foreign Lyrics: The musical opens with "Ces Soirees La", a rap song that samples "December, 1963 (Oh What A Night)" being played in French, establishing the popularity the Four Seasons would reach later in their careers.
  • Fell Off the Back of a Truck: The stuff Tommy gets for the group.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Tommy, as Joe Pesci would tell him in their later years.
    Joe: You were a real prick. Nobody would have put up with your shit except we all needed something.
  • The Gambling Addict: Tommy. As Nick says, he bet on everything from horse races to "which fly would take off from the window sill first".
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: They decide to call themselves the Four Seasons wile standing outside the titular hotel. It's a bowling alley called Four Seasons Lanes in the movie.
  • Gilligan Cut: In the film. Tommy advises Frankie he's been the victim of a scam, but it's going to be OK, he'll take care of those guys who tried to pull a fast one on him. Frankie wants to know, "Are you going to call Gyp DeCarlo?" Tommy takes offense. "You don't bother Gyp DeCarlo for minor stuff like this. I said I'll take care of it!" Cut directly to DeCarlo's place, with DeCarlo giving the would-be scammers a stern talking-to as Tommy stands by.
  • Gold Digger: Tommy believes that Mary married Frankie as a way of getting out of the neighborhood rather than love.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: The band spends years toiling in obscurity and doing backup session work for other bands and singers, without any notable success. Then one day, Bob Gaudio thinks up "Sherry" in 15 minutes... and it's a number one hit. Although it is possible that the years of backup session work are what taught them how to create a hit song in 15 minutes.
  • Honor Before Reason: Played for good and for ill. Frankie and Bob make a "Jersey Contract" on a handshake that benefits both of them, as they each look out for each other. But Frankie's code of honor means that he insist the band take on and pay off the massive debt incurred by Tommy — even when Tommy himself leaves the band. As Nick says to the audience:
"You'd think after everything that went down, Frankie would have cut Tommy loose right then. If that's what you think, you're not from Jersey."
  • I Have Many Names: Played for Laughs; Tommy is constantly changing the bands name during their early years, especially before they find their sound.
  • Joisey: Of course.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: How The Four Seasons finally decided on their noted band name. Originally they had been The Four Lovers, but when all the letters of the local bowling alley's neon sign, which originally said "OUR SONS", finally light up...
  • Literal-Minded: Tommy can't seem to get his head around the idea of "Walk Like a Man" being about anything besides walking.
  • My Nayme Is: Early on in his career, Frankie adopts the stage name Frankie Valley since his real last name, Castelluccio, is too long for a marquee. Mary suggests changing the spelling to "Valli" since most Italian last names end in a vowel.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: Nick is this to a T. He's the most Out of Focus throughout the show and, once it's his turn to narrate, complains about this and calls himself "Ringo". Of course, once he decides to quit the band, Frankie and Bob are not okay with it and try to get him to stay.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Bob's segment is mostly upbeat until the part where Tommy's gambling problems are revealed. However, as Nick says when he takes over the narration:
    Nick: [Bobby] will tell it was smooth sailing right up until we hit the iceberg with Tommy and the hundred fifty thousand... but the truth is, the group was in trouble long before that.
  • Older Than They Think: In-universe example. When considering the band name "Four Seasons", someone mentions that Vivaldi has already used it. Another one protests about having their idea "stolen", apparently thinking that Vivaldi is another Italian guy somewhere in Jersey...
  • One Head Taller: As is the case between the real Frankie Valli (5'5") and Bob Gaudio (6'2"), actors portraying the two roles will typically be the shortest and tallest members, respectively, among the four principle actors.
  • One-Hit Wonder: In-universe Bob Gaudio felt he was originally this before being recruited into The Four Seasons, having already written a relatively popular song called "Short Shorts". After the success of "Sherry" he worried about becoming this again, but this time it didn't last long.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted with the original trio, that included Nick DeVito (Tommy's brother), and Nick Massi.
  • Parental Neglect: Frankie clearly loves his kids, but he doesn't get to see them that much since he's always on the road.
  • The Pete Best: Tommy's brother, Nick DeVito, plays with the band when they first find Frankie, but dissappears from the show after going to prison.
  • Pet the Dog: When Frankie gets arrested as part of a robbery Tommy and his brother committed, Tommy tries to get him off the hook by telling the judge he conned Frankie into it.
  • The Peter Principle: Tommy does a fine job as the band's leader when they're a small time club band playing local gigs. However, as the group signs a recording deal and becomes more mainstream, his short temperament, flightiness, and poor business acumen begin to show and necessitate Bob taking more control.
  • The Quiet One: Nick Massi, with the exception of the segment he narrates. He even lampshades this as he takes over.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: Displayed a few times throughout the show. For example, Tommy's narration implies he plucked Bob out of obscurity until Bob takes over as narrator and reveals that he already had a hit single with another bandnote .
  • Read the Fine Print: Bob Crewe gives the band a personal services contract where they will get paid to sing backup for his other artists and he will record four songs the band brings him. The problem is Crewe has final say on whether the songs Bob writes will get recorded so they spend a year singing backup until they change their name and Bob writes "Sherry".
  • Reality Is Unrealistic:
    • Frankie Valli lost two daughters within six months of each other, the first in a fall from a fire escape, and the second to a drug overdose. The play and film only depicted the second, because showing both would appear contrived and melodramatic.
    • Little Joey turning out to be Joe Pesci seems like a gag out of Forrest Gump; but he really did introduce Bob to Tommy prior to their respective rises to fame.
  • Revolving Door Band: During their early years, the Seasons had to change their line-up based on who was in prison, whether they could get rid of whoever wasn't good and what fad Tommy was trying to profit off of. When Bob joins, the line-up sticks for a time, but it isn't long before band members start leaving until Frankie Valli is essentially a solo artist. Fittingly, the band changes its name to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The three remaining Seasons rip into Tommy during the negotiations between Gyp DeCarlo and Norm Waxman.
    Frankie: Tommy, you don't give a shit about the group. You never have. It's always been whatever it is you got going on and then there's the group. You never want to rehearse. You drive Nicky to drink, you put Bob through the ringer. Forget about trying to mess with my head, which you've done from day one. Shame of it is, you're not a bad musician if you give it a little time, but nah. You're too busy shooting your mouth off or buying apartments to keep your girlfriends in. But no more. All that bullshit is over.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Famous!: A variant. Norm Waxman tells Gyp that the only reason Tommy hasn't suffered bodily harm for not paying off the gambling debts is because his people are fans of the band.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Nick quits the band after becoming fed up with the stress of touring and infighting amongst the group. He even gives Frankie and Bob his share of the band without them having to pay for it. He just wants out.
  • Seasonal Motif: The show is divided into four sections, each narrated by one member of the Four Seasons:
    • "Spring", narrated by Tommy DeVito, covers the group's early years and Tommy's relationship with Frankie.
    • "Summer", narrated by Bob Gaudio, chronicles the Four Seasons' rise to fame.
    • "Fall", narrated by Nick Massi, goes into the tension that began to brew in the group and its eventual breakup due to Tommy's gambling debts.
    • "Winter", narrated by Frankie Valli, deals with his solo career and struggles as a parent.
  • Shout-Out: The film includes a shoutout to GoodFellas in the scene where the teenage Joe Pesci visits Bob Gaudio to invite him to join the soon-to-be Four Seasons. If you listen closely, he says the words "funny, how?", much like the real Pesci's character Tommy DeVito famously says in the aforementioned film.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs:
    • Downplayed, but a couple of times the Four Seasons' members assert that their success lies in the fact that they sing "for The People," the working-class American everyman, rather than the upper-middle class teens or crazy hippies like The Beatles.
    • This is also a source of tension between Tommy and Bob, as Tommy grew up in the slums of Belleville and is used to breaking the law to survive while Bob is from the middle-class suburb of Bergenfield and is far more straight-laced.
    • More "slob vs guy with basic hygiene standards"; but Nick Massi's most openly-combative moment is his rant about how absolutely disgusting Tommy is to room with on tour.
  • Smoking Hot Sex: After his first time, Gaudio plays it up for the others by wearing a bath robe and smoking a cig.
  • Start My Own: Nick frequently voices his desire to do this whenever the group hits a setback, to the point of being a Running Gag. Tommy eventually calls him out on it, saying he never will.
  • Stock Footage: In the stage version, the Seasons' television performances are shown with a screen behind them, cutting between footage of the action on-stage and reactions from the crowd during the actual performances.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Nick during his tirade about Tommy's living habits
    Nick: " This is what I'm dealing with! The man is not properly socialized. Frankie doesn't have to deal with it, Gaudio doesn't, I've had to deal with it TEN YEARS!!!"
  • Switching P.O.V.: Each of the four sections is narrated by a different member of the group.
  • Teen Genius: Bob Gaudio, who writes a hit in his teenage years and goes on to single-handedly make The Four Seasons Household Names.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: Tommy. Keep in mind that the 165 large he owed is equal to almost 1.3 million today.
  • Unishment: Lorraine considers Tommy's sequestering to be this as Tommy gets to hang out in Las Vegas while Frankie and Bob are running themselves ragged trying to pay off the debt.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite him being in the group's early "under the streetlight" lineup and Tommy's brother, Nick DeVito is not seen or heard from after his arrest.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The finale of the show. After their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, each member talks about their feelings of the band's success and reveals what he's up to currently (aside from Nick who, as Frankie reveals, passed away Christmas Eve 2000). Tommy works as an assistant for Joe Pesci, Bob is still partners with Frankie while semi-retired in Nashville, and Frankie continues performing as a solo artist.
  • Work Off the Debt: Thanks to Tommy's gambling debts, the band has to tour extensively to pay it off.
  • Young Future Famous People: Joey, the friend who introduces Bob Gaudio to Tommy, turns out to be a teenaged Joe Pesci.