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Jersey Boys

“Jersey Boys” won four Tony Awards in 2006, including Best Musical. The day after it opened on Broadway, it earned more than $400,000. There are at least seven different companies around the world doing the show right now, and that doesn’t include the production in Australia slated to begin later this year. Surely “Jersey Boys,” which tells the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, must be doing something right.

But for all the interesting details about how the group got started, its troubles and its big hits (including “Sherry,” “Walk Like A Man” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” among many others), the most interesting thing I learned about the band came from speaking with Jonathan Hadley, who plays the band’s lyricist, Bob Crewe.

““Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” is one of the most successful pop songs ever written, but few people realize it’s basically a gay love song,” Hadley said. “As the story goes, Crewe had writer’s block and couldn’t put lyrics to Bob Gaudio’s music. One night he woke up and was pacing the house, and saw his young lover sleeping in bed. He wrote the whole song in that moment as he was looking at his lover, and it makes sense when you listen to the lyrics.”

Here’s what else Hadley had to say about the show, the music, the weather, and portraying a music legend.

You’ve been doing the show for years now, and you’re signed on until the end of 2010-11. Aren’t you sick of the music?

[Laughs] No. The only thing is that stuff gets caught in your head, and you wake up singing the songs. What gets caught in my head now is underscoring. It’s just great music.

Did you like The Four Seasons before the show?

Yes. It’s music you grow up knowing. And now that I know them better I have more appreciation for it. “Beggin’” was not a popular song, but it’s actually one of my favorites because it’s a bit darker than the others. Although if you ask me for a favorite you don’t go wrong with “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”

Have you met the real Bob Crewe?

I have not. But I e-mail him and I know he’s seen the show. He’s very excited about how he’s portrayed, almost as a fifth “season.” He did a lot of things in the music business, but he always wanted to perform up front, even though life always took him behind the scenes as a writer/producer. By having him on stage here, he (sort of) finally gets to be onstage, which is fulfilling for him.

Were you worried about impersonating the real man, or did you just play the role of a writer/producer?

That’s a great question. You have to be respectful because they are real people, but it’s also about playing the character. It’s not like an “SNL” caricature. I did do research, saw pictures, found recordings of his voice, all so I could get a sense of who he was, and then I took that and used what the script gave me to make him a real guy. The funny thing is, these guys are around, and you’ll never know when they’ll stop in and see the show. Frankie Valli’s band was performing in Clearwater recently, and he popped in to see the show when we were in Tampa. It’s a great experience when the real guys are there.

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