BY ED FELIEN
The music just carries you away.
“Can’t Take My Eyes off of You,” “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “My Eyes Adored You,” “Oh, What a Night,” “Working My Way Back to You, Babe,” “Dawn, Go Away I’m No Good for You” – those bittersweet songs stay with you forever.
They all tell a similar story of the loss of youthful innocence to harsh realities – hopes dashed, dreams betrayed, ideals shatter-
It’s the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons – the story of how street punks from Jersey dreamed about becoming stars, of how they became stars, and how, finally, they wanted to go home.
All of us are grateful for youthful promise, and we all go back to that well of hope to nourish our souls from time to time.
“Jersey Boys” at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre is a deep dive into the hopes and despairs of that post-adolescent angst. Michael Brindisi does a consummate job in directing our passions. Just when we want a moment to go on for just a little longer, he takes it away and brings us back down to earth. The cast is superb. Will Dusek, as Frankie Valli, will bend your heart around his finger with his stumbling maturity, and David Darrow’s tough-guy Tommy will make you hate him and love him at the same moment. And Andy Kust’s tight musical direction gives us just the right amount of the juice of rock and roll.
The production was especially poignant for my wife and me. Our grandson plays bass in a country-western band that began playing together at South High School almost 10 years ago. He tells us about a band on the road, couch-surfing and cheap hotels, all that driving, waiting, and, finally, the joy of moments making music with his buddies that comforts anxious souls. Tommy Goodroad and the Highway Birds have played at the Cedar Inn, the Cedar Cultural Center and the Turf Club in St. Paul. This is their first video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihsNeFGcA2I.
Tommy Goodroad and the Highway Birds should go see “Jersey Boys.” They could learn a lot about what brought them together, what could possibly tear them apart, and where they might end up. It would be a great dinner, a wonderful show and a postgraduate guide to their hopes and dreams.
For the rest of us, Chanhassen’s “Jersey Boys” is a charming evening of nostalgia and the sweet hope of youthful innocence.