“Jersey” is the anglicization of the Latin “Caesarea,” a glorious city named after Caesar Augustus. Beginning in 22 AD, Caesarea hosted a quinquennial (every 5 years) spectacle à la “Roman Idol” to showcase the finest talent the Roman Empire had to offer. The Roman instinct for class and majesty flourishes at The Palazzo, a grand resort resembling an imperial residence. Here, in a colossal theatre, guests are enraptured by the number one show in Las Vegas: The Jersey Boys. This musical docudrama chronicles the miraculous rise of four Italian kids from obscurity to stardom as “Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.”
Like roses among thorns in the tiny Garden State, The Four Seasons burst forth in a blaze of fanfare, as have Jersey glitterati Frank Sinatra, Whitney Houston, Dionne Warwick, The Jonas Brothers, and Bruce Springsteen. Maybe it’s something they put in the water; we may never know – but one thing is certain – New Jersey’s got talent.
“Jersey Boys” is benissimo! From the moment of entry to the Palazzo, we were bedazzled by opulence – the multi-billion-dollar complex would make every Roman god, from Apollo to Zeus, drop his jaws in awe. The musical is the quintessential depiction of man’s struggle to reach ostensibly unattainable heights. From their days as singers performing beneath streetlights in the projects, to the spotlights of the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame, The Four Seasons anthropomorphize the four immeasurable virtues described by The Great Buddha: loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. We witness the joy of creating musical hits; the singers are so connected to the audience, we feel that joy, too.
From our earliest days within a mother’s womb, we feel her heartbeat and become imprinted by the waves of rhythm; as young children, when we listen to music, our brain is abuzz with intense neural activity, from the cerebellum, amygdala, and nucleus accumbens to the hippocampus and motor cortex. For me, hitching a ride on the Jersey Boys’ musical wavelengths felt as if I was taking a journey into the deepest crevices of my mind to scratch places that have been itching for years. They pushed all the right buttons to reset my brain programming to “wow!”
December, 1963, marked the beginning of full-scale Beatlemania with the release of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” Contemporary to the Beatles, The Four Seasons were discovering manias of their own (according to the storyline); to wit, writer Bob Gaudio (played expertly by Peter Saide) waxed nostalgically upon the joys of the flesh, celebrating with great exuberance in the gushing of “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night).”
Travis Cloer, as Frankie Valli, brought down the house with his Earth-shattering performance of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” and fellow Seasons’ stars Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi (played superbly by Deven May and Jeff Leibow), with Gaudio, joined the cluster, receiving thunderous applause and earning standing ovations to “Who Loves You.”
Jersey Boys is performing in Las Vegas at The Palazzo in an open-ended run. For ticket information, call 866-641-7469 or 702-414-9000 or visit http://www.jerseyboysinfo.com/vegas/tickets.html .
This article is first in a series about “Sun-City Vegas.” To contact the author, kindly visit www.facebook.com/teddybears .