Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons had a sound all their own. Like their contemporaries the Beach Boys, the group's intricate harmonies were informed by 1950s doo-wop, but songs like "Walk Like a Man," "Rag Doll," and "Big Girls Don't Cry" had a harder edge than what you might expect from most of the bubblegum vocal groups recording in the early 1960s. Valli's soaring high notes made the group's sound that much more distinctive. There's a very good reason that the Four Seasons were one of the few American vocal groups to chart major hits before, during, and after the British Invasion.
"I'm old enough to remember making out to the Four Seasons in the back of my '49 DeSoto," says Orpheum CEO Pat Halloran, confessing his love for Jersey Boys, a Tony Award-winning, documentary-style musical about Valli's rise to stardom. It opens a three-week run in Memphis on Wednesday, January 27th. Halloran has seen the show four times already, and, according to him, it's not your typical jukebox musical.
"This isn't Mamma Mia! or All Shook Up. It's an adult-oriented show," Halloran says. "This is about four guys who grew up on the rough and tumble side of New Jersey. It's real. The show's creators wanted to be honest, so the characters aren't saying 'shucks' and 'heck.' They're using authentic Jersey boys language."
Fans of the original recordings will be pleased to discover that the songs in Jersey Boys haven't been remade into show tunes. They are a close approximation of what Halloran was getting busy to 40 years ago but much, much louder.