Before a single actor even took the stage, audiences were clapping their hands and bobbing their heads along to the tune of “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night),” which echoed throughout the Fox Theatre. Award-winning rags-to-riches musical “Jersey Boys” engaged the audience with its racing plot, captivating storytelling and unforgettable hits by pop-rock band The Four Seasons. The show’s quality performances and musical numbers encourage audiences to sit back, relax and truly enjoy themselves.

“Jersey Boys,” a documentary-style musical about The Four Seasons, introduces audiences to a more personal side of the band’s rise to fame, with behind-the-scenes moments of how The Four Seasons released hits like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and Frankie Valli’s “Fallen Angel.” The show is split into the four seasons, with each season following one band member’s perspective of the group as the plot unfolds. Tommy DeVito (Corey Greenan) tells the band’s origin story, which takes place during the spring. Songwriter and keyboard player Bob Gaudio (Eric Chambliss) narrates summer, which traces the band’s rise to success. Fall, narrated primarily by Nick Massi (Jonathan Cable), finds the group’s first rocky moments. Finally, in winter, Frankie Valli (Jonny Wexler) walks the audience through the group’s departure from its original membership.

“Jersey Boys” carefully balances the relationship between exposition and music. In the opening number, Tommy DeVito steps into a modern-day performance of “Ces Soirée-La (Oh, What a Night)” in Paris and addresses the audience. While at moments the fast-paced plot felt like it was communicating too much to the audience too quickly, such moments of exposition slowed the barrage of information and made the overall narrative easier to grasp.

The playwriting does a terrific job at blending the musical numbers into the story, with catchy instrumentals and lyrics. The music also works to underscore plot points; this is evident as Bob Gaudio celebrates the group’s rising success in the song “Ces Soirée-La (Oh, What a Night),” and as many of the original members of the group move on from the group in the ironically titled song “Stay.”

While each movement onstage was precise and flawlessly executed, The Four Seasons’ choreography was simple. The Four Seasons’ rhythmic bobbing added character to the musical and made it clear that the “Jersey Boys” story is an older one.

The set was, at first, underwhelming. While much of the set design created the atmosphere of dive bars, concert venues or a recording studio, two large screens frequently detracted from the production by pairing the story and music with gaudy images seemingly pulled from a comic book. The retractable screen repeatedly distracted from the performers, especially when it flashed psychedelic, screensaver-like patterns.

The transition between sets was particularly intriguing, as the audience could view different performances at various angles. During recording sessions for hit show “American Bandstand,” the screen displayed profile views of the characters as they performed live in front of the audience. The characters’ navigation of the set’s foreground and background expanded the space; once, a door opened toward the back of the stage, allowing the audience to view The Four Seasons in concert from behind, through the stage door. Such changes in perspective seamlessly connected musical performances with character dialogue.

The supporting cast takes on a variety of different roles throughout the show. Paired with Jess Goldstein’s skillful costume design, this made the cast seem much larger. Goldstein’s costumes covered a wide range of decades, dressing supporting characters in flashy costumes alongside The Four Seasons, who nearly always wear their trademark matching suits in varying colors.

While the plot is simple in concept, “Jersey Boys” makes fantastic use of a small set to connect with the audience beyond its catchy music. The show takes the audience through a wide range of emotions, especially in the second act as The Four Seasons encounter issues between the group’s founding members. The show’s emotional complexity pushes it from just another jukebox musical to an experience that deserves an audience.

Grade: B+

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Joel Lerner (20Ox, 22C) is from Johns Creek, Georgia, majoring in environmental science. Outside of the Wheel, his interests include theater, music and books. If you want to strike up a (seemingly endless) conversation with him, just mention “Doctor Who” or TikTok. Contact Lerner at