Jersey Boys, the busking-to-bigtime story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, continues to captivate the city at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. The Tony Award–winning Broadway musical, staged here by Dancap Productions, travels back to the sunny 1960s, when the clean-cut, straight-collared song stylings of four unknowns from Newark, New Jersey first took shape.
The affable show takes audiences behind the scenes of the group’s rough beginnings and rise to fame. In the early years, the group that began as The Four Lovers released a string of unimpressive singles to little fanfare. But hard work started to pay off in 1962, when a buzz formed around lead singer Valli’s distinctive falsetto and chief songwriter Bob Gaudio’s memorable “Sherry.” The single was a number-one smash and started a tidal wave of chart toppers leading to international acclaim—to date, the group has had almost 20 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Strong songwriting and doo-wop–inspired harmonies were The Four Seasons’ stock-in-trade, helping them carve a lucrative niche on the radio, and in the hearts of adoring (mostly female) fans. Though the original group disbanded in the ’70s, it endures as one of the most popular musical acts of the era, having sold more than 175-million records worldwide.
Through all the turbulence and triumph, the big attraction of Jersey Boys is, of course, a flawlessly performed soundtrack of such hits as “Walk Like a Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” Raw dialogue—a sign on the theatre door warns of “authentic Jersey vocabulary”—lends an air of humorous realism to the story, which at its heart is a love letter to the garden state.
Whether you’re an original Seasons fan or a new convert, the acclaimed musical—welcoming an all-new cast this month— will no doubt have you singing along before the curtain closes.
Toronto Centre for the Arts (5040 Yonge St., 416-733-9388), Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., tickets start at $35; call 416-872-1111 to buy.
SHOP The Four Seasons may have found the music industry fickle and stormy, but the weather is guaranteed to be better for shopping at these nearby centres. For one-of-a-kind shopping, Bayview Village boasts more than 110 luxury stores within 440,000 square feet of upscale space. A two-minute drive along Highway 401 will bring you to Yorkdale Shopping Centre where almost 240 retailers, including Holt Renfrew, Sephora, Lululemon and the Apple store offer the most coveted items.
EAT Warm-up for the show with a sizzling New York steak from The Keg, where family and friends can enjoy the restaurant’s empire state–style offering: a tender striploin with a house peppercorn sauce, grilled just the way you want. Size matters at Bâton Rouge where a sterling silver striploin is a beefy 14 ounces. Close by, Moxie’s Classic Grill serves up nine different sizzlers, while Milestones (5095 Yonge St., 416-225-2552) twists classic steak flavour with a trio of Worcestershire, Kobe mustard and “gaucho” sauces.
SEE Just north of the theatre, the circa-1851 Gibson House Museum is the oldest home in the area. Once owned by land surveyor David Gibson—who helped map early Toronto—the heritage site is a marvel for its well-preserved Georgian-style exterior. To the west, 542 acres of greenspace and entertainment comprise Downsview Park, which hosts such attractions as the Toronto Aerospace Museum and an indoor go-kart track.—Andrea Grassi