“Jersey Boys” Comes to Long Island

Matt Faucher (Nick Massi), Lukas Poost (Bob Gaudio), Pablo David Laucerica (Frankie Valli) and Travis Leland (Tommy DeVito), are in The Gateway’s Long Island premiere of “Jersey Boys,” the Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons musical hit.

No one in the audience sat still when “Jersey Boys” officially opened at the August Wilson Theater on Nov. 6, 2005. The electrifying show about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, how the group formed, their amazing successes with hit songs, life disappointments, breakup, recognition and their upbeat singing and harmonies with “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Sherry,” “Walk Like a Man,” and others roused patrons of all generations to nod heads, shake shoulders, and sometimes sing along. With its amazing book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with each Jersey Boy telling their version, the place went wild. It won four Tony Awards including Best Musical in 2006 and an Olivier Award.

The show had staying power and their story played Broadway until 2017 with national and international tours as well as productions in major cities across the globe. Now it’s making its Long Island premiere at The Gateway in Bellport, beginning Aug. 4.

Pablo David Laucerica (Frankie Valli), Lukas Poost (Bob Gaudio), Travis Leland (Tommy DeVito), and Matt Faucher (Nick Massi) sat down with the Fire Island News to talk between rehearsals on the Gateway patio about their roles and the story behind the show.

Laucerica was called by his agent that he got his dream role. “I just got off a `Dear Evan Hanson’ tour that was closing in Columbus, Ohio,” he said. (Laucerica did its National Tour and a Broadway stint.) “When I found out I called my mom and brother.” A tenor, Laucerica graduated from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music with a bachelor’s degree in voice and opera performance and a certificate in musical theatre performance.

“Opera was my focus for my entire life,” Laucerica said. “It helps with placement of vocals in a show and the storytelling is what I’m drawn to.” A video submission was sent to the Gateway staff, then he auditioned in person for Gateway Executive Artistic Director Paul Allan and his creative team in the city.

The still touring Valli is known for his signature falsetto voice.

The major element that made the records soar was the amazing harmony, it was pointed out.

“The fabulous part of the show is hearing the harmony,” agreed Poost (a Gateway alum in 2019’s “Kinky Boots” who also did a national “Kinky Boots” tour as well as “Shrek”).

Poost’s character, Bob Gaudio, was the master hit writer and formed the legal name “The Four Seasons” with Valli (they’re still friends). Gaudio also would visit some of the productions.

Was Tommy DeVito the bad boy of the group? “Oh yeah,” answered Leland, who plays him. (Leland is another Gateway alum, as recently as “Clue” this winter with Sally Struthers. His credits include an Amazon “Pride and Prejudice” musical.) “He was a complicated guy. His dialogue made it clear that so much was changing around him, he didn’t feel appreciated, and he wanted respect.” DeVito was a founding member. The group began in Belleville, New Jersey, and experienced some dodgy times with the law. “He’s a hard ass because of his upbringing and his vices get the best of him,” Leland explained. “He was the one who pulled everyone together in the group and didn’t get recognized for that.”

Faucher played the Nick Massi role in the national tour of “Jersey Boys” and has starred on Broadway in “Beautiful” and TV’s “F.B.I.” He first heard a Four Seasons song with his mom in the car on a bank drive through when he was 5 (“Big Girls Don’t Cry”).

“The structure of the book hasn’t changed,” he said. “It’s a re-imagining of the staging; a lot of things fall into a rhythm. They (Gaudio and Valli) were heavily involved in the creation of the show.”

The progression of the decades is emphasized. Although the actors don’t look much older, the changing times are implied. “I had one rehearsal with the music director and discussed how Valli’s voice changed as he matured,” Laucera said. “I have to make it warmer.”

“You’re seeing the impact of time with the characters’ evolvement, especially when the original Four Seasons, Valli, Gaudio, DeVito and Massi, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990,” added Faucher.

There are 31 songs in the score, 18 in the cast. Get ready for the big pow, warned Faucher. “The show is engineered to delay the big three, “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and “Walk Like a Man,” he said.

“Jersey Boys” is playing at The Gateway in Bellport from Aug. 4 to Sept. 10. Contact the Bellport Box Office Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 631-286-1133 or boxoffice@thegateway.org.