Movie Review

June 26, 2014

Young dazzles with vocal performance in 'Jersey Boys'

The musical “Jersey Boys” took Broadway by storm.

Hollywood’s big screen adaptation will likely please those who liked the stage production — or those who always wanted to see it but didn’t get a chance.

A younger crowd, however, with little interest in the life or music of Frankie Valli, will likely be less enthused with the straightforward and old-fashioned production directed by Clint Eastwood.

Starring Plattsburgh High alum John Lloyd Young, who won a Tony Award in 2006 for his Broadway portrayal of Valli, “Jersey Boys” follows star-crossed teenagers from the streets of New Jersey to the top of the charts.

Though the 38-year-old Young stretches believability in the early stages of the film as a 16-year-old Valli, he settles perfectly into the lead role, and dazzles with his vocal performance on a wide array of the Four Seasons’ greatest hits.

Eastwood elected to record most of the music during live takes, Broadway style, not in studio, and the Young-led cast is up to the task. Many viewers will no doubt come away with at least one or two instances of “Oh, I didn’t realize that was a Four Seasons song.”

Joining Young in the band are another pair of largely unknown “Jersey Boys” stage veterans — Erich Bergen, who took part in the first national tour, as songwriter/keyboard player Bob Gaudio; and Michael Lomenda, who reprises his role as the deep-voiced Nick Massi from the Toronto and touring version of the show.

The only member of the band without stage experience is Vincent Piazza (“Boardwalk Empire”), who nails the film’s showiest part as Four Seasons bad boy Tommy DeVito.

Christopher Walken is really the only name member of the cast, as benevolent mobster Gyp DeCarlo.

The story is told, as in the play, at various points from the perspective of Nick, Tommy and Bob — who occasionally speak directly to the camera. Frankie keeps his thoughts to himself.

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