Perhaps no other Broadway musical in recent history has created such a large and loyal fan base as Jersey Boys, the story of four guys from New Jersey who rose to fame as the Four Seasons. Hardcore fans have seen the Broadway show dozens of times (yes, some, even hundreds of times), as well as the road versions in cities like Las Vegas, Chicago, London, even Melbourne, Australia. Friendships have been formed with fans meeting up for dinner before and after shows and keeping up a steady stream of comments on several online blogs.
John Lloyd Young
The stars of the show, including Tony Award winner John Lloyd Young, have always been gracious to fans, standing at the stage door after performances to sign autographs and pose for photos. Fans have repaid that kindness by continuing to support the show as well as other artistic efforts by cast members, current and former. When Lloyd Young appeared at the Café Carlyle, fans turned out.
There was always hope for a movie and endless speculation about who would direct and who would star. A first effort, to be directed by Jon Favreau, reportedly faltered over budget issues. While fans were initially discouraged, they are now rejoicing. Academy Award winner Clint Eastwood took over the project and spirits are high that the film will more than measure up to expectations. Eastwood, known for being financially savvy and efficient, is expected to bring the project in on schedule, in time to be released for the holiday season, 2014, and to be eligible for Oscar nominations.
Eastwood won over fans with his first move, casting some of the stage actors in major roles, including Lloyd Young who will reprise his performance as Frankie Valli. Erica Piccininni, a member of the original cast, will once again star as Lorraine, a journalist who interviews Valli and ends up having an affair with him. Erich Bergen, who played Bob Gaudio in both the Los Angeles and Las Vegas versions of the musical, nabbed the film role, too, as did Michael Lomenda, who played Nick Massi in the Toronto version. Don Kehr, will play the part he originated on Broadway, Norm Waxman, the loan shark who threatens Tommy Devito. Renée Marino, the most recent Mary Delgado (Valli’s wife) on Broadway landed the movie part.
Star power will be provided by Christopher Walken as mobster Angelo “Gyp” DeCarlo, two Sopranos alumni, Katherine Narducci (Frankie’s mother, Mary), and Steve Schirripa (Vito). Vincent Piazza, who appears in HBO’s Broadwalk Empire, will play Tommy Devito.
Although New Jersey was Valli’s stomping ground, the film is being shot in Los Angeles, certainly a disappointment not only to Chris Christie’s state, which could certainly use a financial boost at this time, but also to fans who tend to be clustered in the Northeast. Still, there are Jersey Boys fans all over the country, indeed, the world, and those in L.A. are taking their responsibilities seriously, scouting the streets for signs of Eastwood & Co., sending in written reports to the Jersey Boys blog, as well as photos (oftentimes being told by Warner Brothers to take them down). The stars, too, are getting involved, using social media to tweet what’s happening on the set and what it’s like to work with Eastwood.
Eastwood’s acting career spans decades, but he has only appeared in one musical, Paint Your Wagon, directed by Joshua Logan, and has never directed one. With his name attached, the film will certainly command attention. Whether Eastwood succeeds in transferring the exuberance of the stage play to the screen remains to be seen. All those Jersey Boys fans will certainly be watching.