Before "Jersey Boys," almost everyone knew the Four Seasons' songs, but almost nobody knew their stories.
Those great songs and those surprisingly colorful pre-fame stories of one of the biggest vocal groups of the '50s and '60s made "Jersey Boys" one of the biggest hits on Broadway of the past decade. It won the 2006 Tony Award for Best Musical, and its cast recording won the Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.
Its national tours have been huge hits too. Now "Jersey Boys" is returning to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa for seven shows beginning Tuesday.
"Jersey Boys" chronicles the rise of the four working-class kids who became some of the biggest stars in pop music history, and, of course, it features dozens of classic Four Seasons hits, with music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe. The book is by Marshall Brickman, perhaps best known for his collaborations with Woody Allen, including the movie "Annie Hall."
"It's a great story and a great book," said Straz Center president Judy Lisi. "And on top of that, there are lots of great songs."
It had been conceived as a more-or-less standard jukebox musical, with Four Seasons' songs injected into a fictitious story. It turned out the little-known background of the Four Seasons was as compelling as any fiction Brickman could come up with, and the result is a semi-documentary musical.
Details: April 8-13,, Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa. Show times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $48-$116 plus. Information: 813-229-7827, www.strazcenter.org.
-- Marty Clear