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Jersey Boys’ coming to Columbus

Photo courtesy of CAPA

“Jersey Boys,” a Broadway musical, will stop at the Ohio Theatre next summer for three weeks as a part of a national tour. But theater enthusiasts will have to wait nearly two seasons to see the play, which features 1960s rock ‘n’ roll group The Four Seasons.

The Tony Award-winning, documentary-style musical will stop in Columbus Aug. 17 to Sept. 4. Its stay is expected to generate $4.2 million in ticket sales said Bill Conner, president of the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts.

“We are very, very proud to host this stellar production,” Conner said during the musical’s Columbus launch party Monday night. “It helps make Columbus a little bigger.”

Tickets don’t go on sale until March 24, but two of the show’s stars were in Columbus Monday to discuss the musical.

“You can’t say that (‘Jersey Boys’) is a little bit better than the other shows I’ve been in,” said Joseph Leo Bwarie, who plays the role of Four Season’s Frankie Valli. “It’s not a little bit better — it’s like a whole different universe. It’s the best thing I’ve ever been in; I don’t know if I’ll ever be in anything better.”

Bwarie, who started his acting career at age 8 on NBC’s “Highway to Heaven,” has also played roles in “Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement” and “Valentine’s Day.”

“The show I was in before this one was ‘Lion King,'” said John Gardiner, an actor who plays 15 roles in the play. “I remember being onstage for the opening of (the ‘Lion King’) and thinking, ‘Wow, nothing could match the electricity of that crowd.’ But then I got in ‘Jersey Boys.'”

The musical has won four Tony Awards, was named the Best New Musical by London’s Laurence Olivier Awards and has won a Grammy Award for Best Show Album. It premiered on Broadway in 2005 and began its first national tour in 2006.

Dino Tripodis, a DJ on Columbus’ 94.7 FM, emceed the event and talked extensively with Bwarie about his role.

Bwarie said he attended “Frankie Camp,” a workshop in New York where prospective “Jersey Boys” actors practice singing Valli’s signature high notes.

“My voice hurts so much at the end of the night,” Bwarie said. He sings 27 of the 34 songs featured in the show.

“Jersey Boys'” visit to Columbus will be the second Ohio trip the cast has made. Bwarie and Gardiner preformed in Cincinnati in 2008 — the loudest crowd they have experienced on the tour, they said.

Gardiner, who attended the University of Cincinnati, challenged Columbus to rival Cincinnati’s energy.  

Bwarie said Ohioans should have plenty to cheer about.

“Ohio pops up in the musical quite a bit because (The Four Seasons) played there a lot,” he said.

Conner said a total of 60,000 tickets will be released for “Jersey Boys'” three-week stay in Columbus. The musical is now running in Philadelphia.

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