Jersey Boys celebrates three years on the Strip
By Emma Trotter
Photography by Christopher DeVargas
On April 15, the core cast of Jersey Boys gathered in the theater that bears their name at The Palazzo for a fashion shoot. But these boys weren’t playing the roles of Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. For the first time, they were shooting as themselves—Rick Faugno, Travis Cloer, Peter Saide, Deven May and Jeff Leibow—suited up in clothing by Billionaire Italian Couture and Canali.
The Las Vegas Magazine cover shoot was just part of the celebration of the Vegas show’s anniversary on May 3. Three years ago, Vegas watched and waited as the city welcomed a promising Broadway smash that had been über-successful in cities nationwide—the true story of four blue-collar boys triumphing over obstacles of small-town living and achieving big-time dreams of musical fame. Who knew then how perfect Jersey Boys would fit in? Now celebrated as one of the must-see productions on the Strip, the musical combines elements of Broadway-trained performers, a little comedy and a big story of how the Four Seasons rose to greatness. One cast member who is still in awe of the show’s smashing success is Faugno, one of the two actors who plays Valli. “I can’t believe it has been three years already,” he said. “That’s wild. I was playing the opening night.”
The musical’s bread and butter is, of course, the dance moves and superb songs of the Four Seasons. And credit for that goes to the incredibly sharp talents of the five leads (Faugno and Cloer rotate the energy-intensive role of frontman Valli). Its two-hour running time flies by, thanks to the swift yet informative way of storytelling, as the show chronicles their story from the 1960s to 1990, the year they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Along with the ins and outs of their personal lives, the story follows the Four Seasons from their Newark beginnings to breakout hits such as “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and Valli’s climactic centerpiece, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.”
Faugno and his three-octave voice have been there since the beginning, and he’s watched as the Las Vegas show has exploded into a major headlining draw. He agrees that Jersey Boys has been at least partially credited with revitalizing Broadway on the Strip. Faugno says that recognition certainly goes to predecessors like Mamma Mia! and Phantom—The Las Vegas Spectacular, which both passed the five-year residency mark. “I think for sure now Jersey Boys has proven the fact that you can’t count Broadway out in Las Vegas,” he said.
Those who do go into Jersey Boys skeptical come out raving about how it’s the best show they’ve ever seen. It’s just that kind of show.
“I think that Jersey Boys falls into a specific niche that a lot of other shows haven’t been able to fulfill in Vegas … It’s so well-written and it’s got such a great story that so many people can relate to and connect with. On top of that, the music is so great. It’s kind of one of those shows that’s hard not to like. That really happens very rarely in theater, where so many things go right and so many things fall into place and it’s meant to be,” Faugno said.
And the show is realistic, showing triumph and tragedy as much as it does the fame and fortune the Four Seasons went on to achieve. It’s a true story that comes down to a few kids from Jersey just trying to make it—and really isn’t that what we’re all trying to do?