A couple weeks ago, my in-laws took Harley and I to see Jersey Boys on Broadway. Despite my initial reluctance, I loved it. Seriously loved it. It was like a Scorsese directing a musical. The characters were singing but we still tough and streetwise. My favorite line was "We weren't a social movement like The Beatles. The guy pumping your gas, the waitress with bags under her eyes - they were the ones who really got us."
The show was a great mix of story line and concert experience. The music rocked, and the actors played their own instruments to give the moment authenticity. I always remembered Walk Like A Man sounding too kiddy, but it had a driving beat that was so hard and contemporary. Of course, when I listened to the original recordings, they sounded childlike, like a novelty. The real music, at least for me, was nowhere near as good as the excitement and rock the show interjected into the songs.
The show updated the songs with the rock sound today's audiences are used to. This made the music sound fresh and current and I'm sure helped the audience remember the time more fondly. The performances created a sense of nostalgia that might not have been there before the show. My mother-in-law went nuts during Sherry, and I don't think that would have happened by just listened to the music.
The concert moments were amazing. While the music sounded great, the applause was profound. The audience was primarily Baby Boomers from the suburbs who were from New York and New Jersey. For the most part, the audience had a shared background. The audience sees these 4 guys go from playing bowling alleys in Jersey to being the biggest band in the world.
When the audience claps after the performances, they applaud not only that performance but also the success these characters have achieved. They also clap for themselves. They clap for their youth, for how far they have come in their own lives. The show uses to music and the shared experience of Jersey to create a community for the few hours we were in the theater. It's far fetched, but it was palpable sitting in the audience that Sunday afternoon.