BY PHILIP POTEMPA
You’ve probably seen some of the television commercials celebrating the one-year anniversary of the hit Broadway in Chicago musical “Jersey Boys.”
The advertising campaign features everyday folks from around Chicago echoing the lyrics of one of the most famous songs from the show: “Oh, What a Night!”
The spots also feature a selection of some notables proclaiming the same, including Coach Mike Ditka and Valparaiso Vikings star-turned-Notre-Dame-god-turned Chicago Cub Jeff Samardzija.
How fast a year can breeze by. With Chicago’s standing production of “Wicked” at the Oriental Theater Ford Theatre for Performing Arts ready to fly the coop in January after two years of box-office gold, the pressure is on for the Chicago production of “Jersey Boys” at LaSalle Bank Theatre, now known as the Bank of America Theatre, to pick up where the witches left off.
And to thank Chicagoans and audiences from throughout our readership for their support, Broadway in Chicago hosted a spectacular party following last Tuesday’s one-year anniversary performance, featuring unlimited free (and delicious) pizza from Home Run Inn Pizza; new, trendy Fruit Fusion juice drinks from Coca Cola; and scrumptious cheesecake from the generous folks at the legendary Eli’s Cheesecake.
As for the special one-year performance at the Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St., the cast is still hitting every high note and treating audiences to a theater experience that ranks as nothing short of amazing.
“Jersey Boys,” of course, is a 2006 Tony Award-winning musical about Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Four Seasons, consisting of Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi.
It’s the rags-to-riches tale of how four blue-collar kids worked their way from the streets of Newark to the heights of stardom, becoming one of the greatest successes in pop-music history. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide, all before they were 30.
Broadway in Chicago announced last month that actor Jarrod Spector, who had been playing Valli for the Chicago run, would be leaving the show.
The Chicago company of “Jersey Boys” has since welcomed Chicagoan Cory Grant to the role of Valli beginning Saturday, Sept. 27.
A native of Winnetka, Ill., and graduate of New Trier High School, Grant returns to his hometown after 10 months in the Broadway ensemble of “Jersey Boys.”
I was curious to see how Grant would fill the famous shoes of Valli, in addition to crooning with that famous falsetto voice. I had been impressed with Spector from the first two times I enjoyed the show. I’m happy to discover Grant is every bit as great as Spector and even looks more like Valli.
So far, in just the past year, “Jersey Boys” has delighted more than 750,000 theatergoers, according to Broadway In Chicago President Lou Raizin.
“We look forward to having ‘Jersey Boys’ in Chicago for a long time to come, as it brings audiences to the city from across the country and further demonstrates what a phenomenal theater city we have,” Raizin said.
As for the show’s staying power, the musical’s producer Michael David is convinced it will stay around the Loop for a long time.
“What a wonderful year this has been, and we are profoundly grateful for it,” David said.
“The Windy City and ‘Jersey Boys’ would seem to fit hand to glove. We’ve settled in, we love the neighborhood and the abundance of friendly neighbors. When such rare symmetry happens, you want to hold on to it as long as you can. We eagerly look forward to a great second year at home in Chicago.”
The musical is produced by Dodger Theatricals, Joseph J. Grano, Tamara and Kevin Kinsella, Pelican Group with Latitude Link and Rick Steiner.
Tickets range from $30 to $110 at (312) 902-1400 or BroadwayInChicago.com/BestSeats.