“Jersey Boys” when the music snapped

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The future reveals itself in many unexpected ways. For Cory Jeacoma, it was a broken cell phone that first displayed a vision of forthcoming events. Jeacoma stars as Bob Gaudio in the national touring production of Jersey Boys, a dream role for the young actor. Jeacoma had seen the production six times before he finally got an audition. Every time he saw it, he felt himself drawn to the show, particularly the role of Gaudio, who wrote several hits for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Exactly a year before he was cast, he Jeacoma took his mom to see it, and the pair took a photo beneath the marquee. “Through a series of unfortunate events, I broke my phone when I was auditioning for the show,” says Jeacoma. “When I got a new phone, the screensaver was a picture of my mom and I in front of the Jersey Boys marquee. It was kind of a spotlight on the fact that this was supposed to happen.”

Jersey Boys is the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons and how a group of blue-collar boys became one of the biggest American pop music sensations of all time. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds, and sold 175 million records worldwide—all before they were 30. The cast of the Jersey Boys tour includes Aaron De Jesus as Frankie Valli, Matthew Dailey as Tommy DeVito, and Keith Hines as Nick Massi. Directed by two-time Tony-winner Des McAnuff, Jersey Boys is written by Oscar winner Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice with music by Bob Gaudio.

“At no point did our director want us to do impersonations. He wanted us to bring in our personality to these characters, so if you get to know any of us that play the Four Seasons, we all have similar attributes to the characters that we’re playing. The characters were very carefully written, and it was very carefully cast as archetypes of these people. Ultimately, it’s a matter of making these characters, though they’re non fictional, bringing them life through ourselves,” says Jeacoma.

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“Bob and Frankie were such huge proponents of this show. They helped write it and helped create it from the ground up. They come see the show every once in awhile and when we play in a city like Memphis, which is only a few hours from where Bob lives, it’s a constant thought that I to not only have to honor the piece for the audience’s sake, but I have to honor this man that has made such an impact on the music world.”

In his portrayal of Gaudio, Jeacoma enjoys the parallels he shares with his character. His favorite moment comes about 20 minutes in when Guardio first auditions before the band that would become Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

“I sing a song called ‘Cry for Me.’ I sit at the piano and I play a song I wrote for the group. Slowly, they each trickle in. Frankie comes in and does a couple harmonies. The bass player comes in and plays a bass line, and finally Tommy DeVito, who is the hard nut to crack, comes in and starts singing and it’s the first time you hear the four of them singing together. You just see what made this group so special in that moment.” Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons recorded some of the biggest hits of the 60’s including ‘Sherry’, ‘Walk Like a Man’, and ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’.

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Jeacoma also exhibits the same forward thinking nature as his onstage persona. “Bob was very much a forward thinker. He was always thinking about the future and thinking about the next step. I would like to think that I’m the same way, especially after graduating college. After I graduated, I was thinking about the next step. I didn’t know what was next, but the world was at my fingertips, so everyone says. Then this show fell into my lap and suddenly the future was a lot easier to see.” The day after he graduated from Pace University, he left for a contract gig at the Fulton Theatre in Pennsylvania. It was during that show that Jeacoma got the audition for Jersey Boys. He got his final callback while doing a production of Mamma Mia in Maine.

Jersey Boys is presented by the FSCJ Broadway in Jacksonville Artist Series Feb. 14-19 at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts (www.fscjartistseries.org).

About Liza Mitchell

april, 2022