Jersey Boys, East­wood an odd match

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It al­ways seemed ob­vi­ous that the stage show, Jersey Boys, would be turned into a movie and fol­low in the suc­cess­ful foot­steps of Hair­spray, Mamma Mia! and Dream­girls.

Few would have imag­ined, though, that Dirty Harry would be the man in the direc­tor’s chair.

But Clint East­wood was in­deed the man be­hind the cam­era for the screen adap­ta­tion of the hit mu­si­cal.

And for his young cast, work­ing with the Hol­ly­wood leg­end was a dream come true.

Jersey Boys tells the story of the Four Sea­sons, one of the ear­li­est in­car­na­tions of a boy band.

The four ac­tors play­ing the Sea­sons – John Lloyd Young, who plays Frankie Valli, Vin­cent Pi­azza (Tommy DeVito), Michael Lomenda (Nick Massi) and Erich Ber­gen (Bob Gau­dio) – had not made a ma­jor movie be­fore sign­ing on for Jersey Boys.

Pi­azza, a reg­u­lar in the TV se­ries, Board­walk Em­pire, was the only one who had not been in the stage show it­self.

“You fan­ta­sise about mak­ing a big Hol­ly­wood movie and yet, when it comes to most of the movies be­ing made at the mo­ment, it’s not like it used to be,” Ber­gen told City Press ahead of the film’s South African re­lease on Fri­day.

“But with this, an East­wood movie, it is some­thing else. You drive to work, pull into the Warner Bros lot in Bur­bank [Cal­i­for­nia] with its wa­ter tow­ers, you see the plaque that hangs out­side the sound stage with a list of all the movies that have been made there, back to the 30s, and then the big doors open up and it’s Mr East­wood.” Young, who won the Tony Award for Best Lead­ing Ac­tor in a Mu­si­cal in 2006 for his por­trayal of the group’s leader, agreed: “The man made West­erns. I never thought we’d be in a movie with Clint East­wood. We’re the kind of guys who would have been the first to be killed in a Western.”

Some crit­ics have said that East­wood was an odd choice to bring the vi­brant world of Jersey Boys to life.

“I’ve al­ways thought there were cer­tain sub­tleties that are lost on the stage,” said Young.

“The psy­chol­ogy of Frankie Valli is much more ap­par­ent on screen than it is on stage.”

He should know. Young has played the iconic voice be­hind hit songs like Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry and Walk Like a Man since Jersey Boys opened on Broad­way in 2005 and spawned ver­sions all over the world – in­clud­ing in South Africa.

Their ex­pe­ri­ences on stage as part of the mu­si­cal gave the ac­tors an un­ex­pected ad­van­tage over East­wood, said Young.

“You know the places where the au­di­ence usu­ally laughs or gasps or re­acts in some way, so on cam­era, you kinda al­ready know what you’re do­ing for the au­di­ence you can’t see,” he said.

For a re­view of Jersey Boys, see #Trend­ing

John Lloyd Young and Vin­cent Pi­azza

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