In Entertainment, Magazine, Music, News

By Don Chareunsy

They are just too good to be true. The popular and beloved Tony- and Grammy-winning production “Jersey Boys” is back in Las Vegas for its third residency, now at The Orleans Hotel & Casino after headliner performances for years at The Palazzo Las Vegas and Paris Las Vegas.

The original “Jersey Boys,” led by director Des McAnuff from the book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and premiering in La Jolla, Calif., in 2004, is a jukebox musical presented in a documentary-style format that dramatizes the creation, success and split of the 1960s rock and roll group The Four Seasons.

“Jersey Boys” is structured as four “seasons” each narrated by a member of The Four Seasons who gives his own perspective of the band’s music and backstory, with Frankie Valli front and center. “Jersey Boys” ran on Broadway from 2005 to 2017 and won the 2006 Tony for Best Musical along with three other statuettes.

Hit songs in “Jersey Boys” include “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Sherry,” “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night),” “My Eyes Adored You,” “Stay,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Walk Like A Man,” “Rag Doll,” “Who Loves You” and “Working My Way Back to You.”

Since its debut, “Jersey Boys” has been on two North American national tours and two national tours of the United Kingdom and Ireland. The show has been produced in London’s West End, Las Vegas, Chicago, Toronto, Melbourne and other Australian cities, Singapore, South Africa, The Netherlands, Japan, Dubai, and China.

“Jersey Boys” is back on the Las Vegas stage with the help of Danny Austin (Production Supervisor and Associate Choreographer) and Ron Melrose (Music Supervisor), both of whom have worked on the production for the last two decades, and Sarah Lowe (Assistant Director and Choreographer), who worked on previous Las Vegas productions.

The resident cast features Joey Barreiro and Jared Chinnock (alternating as Frankie Valli), Tyler Matthew Burk (Tommy DeVito), Jonathan Cable (Nick Massi), Kit Treece (Bob Gaudio), Beau Brians (Joe Pesci), Carson Collins (Bob Crewe), Zach Cossman (Norm Waxman/Hank), Nichole Forde (Lorraine), Emma J. Kantor (Francine Valli), Michael McClure (Gyp DeCarlo), Sarah Pfeifer (Mary Delgado), Brennan Stylez (Barry Belson), Meghan Gratzer (Female Swing), Andrew Maguire (Swing 1), Dale Melancon (Swing 2) and Ryan Hurley (Swing 3).

The $14 million production premiered inside the 850-seat Orleans Showroom as its first long-term residency. I saw “Jersey Boys” at The Palazzo and Paris and in a touring production in Spokane, Wash., in 2022, and “Jersey Boys” Las Vegas and its cast easily stand among them. The audience the night I watched the show enthusiastically agreed with a rousing standing ovation. That’s the love for and enduring legacy of “Jersey Boys.”

Barreiro and Chinnock here at The Orleans alternate the lead role of Valli, which is standard in “Jersey Boys” because the main character is extremely challenging vocally. Barreiro is outstanding, and I will return to see the chatty Chinnock in the lead.

TWO ACTORS PLAY VALLI

What is it like to share a lead role in a Tony Award-winning production?

Barreiro: “It’s like having the best job and getting to share it with audiences, my castmates and my co-Frankie.”

Chinnock: “I absolutely love sharing the role with the extreme- ly talented Joey Barreiro. It’s rare in this industry that a role
is split down the middle, so it’s a unique opportunity to be able to talk with your counterpart and discuss the text while also bringing your own unique spin to the role. It’s also fun for audiences to see two different takes on such an iconic figure.”

Part of the reason it’s a shared role is the challenging vocals. How do you prepare and take care of your vocals?

Barreiro: “We take weekly voice lessons to keep everything in check. And since we’re in a desert, water. Hydration is key.”

Chinnock: “Being a singer in Las Vegas certainly comes with its challenges, especially as a native Brit who was born and raised in a different climate. It’s important to establish a vocal care routine that will last for life. Hydration is the biggest factor. After that, your vocal care and performance routine should enable you to be able to sing the show without strain. After the show, a 20- to 30-minute cool down routine is needed to bring down any swelling that might have occurred during the show.”

What has been the most surprising aspect of portraying Frankie Valli? And the most rewarding or best aspect?

Barreiro: “I’m surprised by how much I enjoy hearing the same music every night. These are hit songs for a reason. The best part about playing Frankie is getting to feel like a rock star. It’s a trip.”

Chinnock: “Digging into the incredible emotional range of Frankie Valli. Everyone knows the vocal range required to play Frankie, but what not many people may know is that the char- acter’s journey throughout the show is as equally dynamic.”

How is the run at The Orleans Showroom going so far?

Barreiro: “Pretty well, I’d say. We have a talented cast and crew, an incredible story to tell and a beautiful space filled with beautiful audiences. And our ushers and front-of-house team are delightful. ‘Jersey Boys’ belongs in Vegas.”

Chinnock: “The run has been going really well. Audiences are absolutely loving the fact that ‘Jersey Boys’ is back in Las Vegas. Audience reception has been phenomenal.”

Audiences absolutely love “Jersey Boys.” Why the adoration, do you think?

Barreiro: “The characters feel like family, the music is killer, and it’s genuinely funny.”

Chinnock: “I think it’s because the show is so relatable. It’s your classic ‘rags to riches’ story of four guys from a working-class background who shook off the socioeconomic expectations placed upon them in search for something better. These guys are real people with real stories to tell, and the show doesn’t shy away from portraying them as fallible humans who make a lot of mistakes along the way. I firmly believe that people come to see ‘Jersey Boys’ for the music, but they stay for the story.”

I know the show just opened in Las Vegas. Do you have any fun or interesting stories you can share?

Barreiro: “Oh, like when my pant leg completely ripped off during a point in the show when Frankie doesn’t leave the stage? That was fun and interesting.”

Chinnock: “We were lucky enough to go and see Frankie Valli himself live in concert during his run at the Westgate earlier this year. After the show, we were able to go backstage and spend some time with him. I had a wonderful conversation with him where he gave me some nuggets of advice about my career. It was a truly memorable moment, and being able to study the man himself in the flesh enabled me to bring so much authenticity to my portrayal.”

Anything else you can share about being in “Jersey Boys” that our readers might find interesting?

Barreiro: “People underestimate the work that happens backstage. We have so many absolutely essential members of our crew – stage managers, wardrobe, lights, sound, etc. The show is a machine, and without any one of its parts, the magic trick behind ‘Jersey Boys’ doesn’t work. There are no shortcuts to making a show like this. It’s a thrill to be a small part of it.”

Chinnock: “For the first time in Las Vegas, we are bringing back the full, unabridged Broadway show to The Orleans complete with a 10-piece orchestra and all songs featured in the original Broadway production. This is why ‘Jersey Boys’ is rightfully 21⁄2 hours with a 10-minute intermission.”

DINING AT THE ORLEANS

There’s no reason not to make it a night out with dinner before or after “Jersey Boys,” with at least four solid options at The Orleans: the newly reopened Big Al’s Oyster Bar, Alder & Birch, Bailiwick and Ondori Asian Kitchen.

I’ve never met an oyster bar I didn’t like, as I love oysters and all seafood. This one is a classic serving Cajun-Creole fare alongside oysters and clams, and the location is larger than most oyster bars.

Ondori serves Chinese and Japanese cuisine, including su- shi, with beer and wine in a dimly lit and chic restaurant. Also at Ondori: vegetarian dishes and happy hour. Bailiwick is a stylish gastropub, eatery and lounge featuring global fare, draft beer aplenty, comfortable seating and live entertainment. Also at Bailiwick: vegetarian dishes and happy hour.

And I would list Alder & Birch as one of my favorite steakhouses in Las Vegas, one I look forward to dining at during the West Coast Conference Championships, especially if my alma mater Gonzaga is doing well. Pro tip: the Old Fashioned with candied maple bacon. It is a meal unto itself.

 

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