09 December 2007

Jersey Boys and Reality

I saw the "Jersey Boys" at a matinee performance yesterday.

Let's get it straightened out exactly who I saw performing as whom. When I walked into the theatre, the usher handed me a program, including five separate loose slips of paper announcing cast changes. This is not unusual for a matinee, I take it.

The four lead characters are: Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi, Frankie Valli, and Bob Gaudio.

As an anonymous informant reminded me in a comment on this blog last week, Travis Cloer plays the Valli role on Saturday matinees these days. One of those cast-change slips they handed me says the same thing: "The role of Frankie Valli will be played by Travis Cloer."

Before the recent changes, I understand, Cloer had played the role of Joe Pesci, the future actor, a 'jersey boy' himself. The script gives Pesci credit for introducing Gaudio to the rest of the group.

So Cloer moved up, if you will, from playing 'Joey' to playing Frankie Valli. Another slip tells me that Eric Schneider stepped into the roles usually played by Cloer. So it was Schneider I saw doing Pesci.

The other three main roles were played as long advertised: by David Reichard (Gaudio), Christian Hoff (DeVito), and J. Robert Spencer (Nick Massi).

Donnie Kehr usually plays Norm Waxman. I'm afraid I can't tell you right now who "Waxman" is exactly. Isn't he the loan shark to whom DeVito owes $150,000?
That's my bet. Anyway, I didn't see Kehr playing Waxman. The slip tells me I saw John Leone doing so. And if he's who I think he is, he did a fine job with it.

I'm not a fan of so-called "jukebox musicals" as a form. I'd rather have the producers of a new musical have the guts to put some new songs into play, rather than relying on the fact that their audience already knows the tunes we're going to hear. Surprise us! Also, I'd like a plot that isn't just a strung-together quasi-documentary that glues the songs together. I enjoyed both Spelling Bee and Chicago far more than I did this. So sue me. Or, as they say in Jersey, Fuhgeddaboddit.

Notwithstanding: I had a fine time. There was some play with the philosophical issue of reality and appearance. We saw the figures on stage talking about the British invasion, and the need to resist it by going on the Ed Sullivan show (as the Liverpudlians famously had) themselves. Then a projection screen appears, and we see two things at once. On the stage we see the actors performing as the Four Seasons did on their Sullivan show gig. On the screen, we see black-and-white footage from that show.

So ... which is the reality and which is the appearance? On the screen we're seeing the "real" Four Seasons, whereas beneath it we're seeing "only" actors. On the other hand, on the stage we're seeing flesh-and-blood three dimensional humans performing. On the screen we're seeing grainy black-and-white images.

So the reality/appearance divide is relative? Like ... wow.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.