It goes without saying that those who fondly remember when the score to this musical was actually part of the hit parade will have a great time, but what about the rest of us? Not to worry: this autobiographical account of the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons from New Jersey street corners to the top of the charts is a compelling story really well told, even if you couldn’t care less about, or know a note of, the music itself. This is hardly the whitewashed version of a group’s life a la “A Hard Day’s Night” or “The Monkees,” but the real deal complete with thugs, gangsters, drug addicts, true music-industry types, “friends” who stab you in the back, what it is like to live out of a suitcase and with other guys for years on the road (“the guy changes his underwear every three days” rings so true to those who have had that experience) and what happens to your kids when you’re never home. And yes, the rest is the music, that trademark falsetto sound singing pop hooks that found that spot in the center of your brain and wouldn’t let go, even if you prayed that they would. The trademark harmonies are reverently reproduced, although sometimes with key signatures lowered and synthesized augmentation and often with original instruments of the period used merely as props. But there is still no denying that the overall effect is a high-energy, extraordinary evening of entertainment. (Dennis Polkow)
At Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe, (312)902-1400. $37.50-$162.50. Through January 10, 2010.