I grew up listening to “oldies” on the way home from “Down the Shore,” with my parents, every weekend. Frankie Valli felt like a family member, the way my Dad talked about him (they came from the same neighborhood). So, when the “Jersey Boys” musical was presented at the State Theatre in New Brunswick to kick off its 2017-18 Broadway Season, I was happy to go see it and reminisce a little.
The opening night on Oct. 13 buzzed with excitement outside of the State Theatre, which, majestically lit up, greeted the full house of ticket holders. Some in the crowd paused to glimpse VIPs walking the red carpet or checking out a 1950s-era black Cadillac parked outside. I definitely had to snap a picture in front. Then, with our tickets in hand, we entered through the grand doors.
Every seat seemed to be a good one to really get to see the actors’ emotions and expressions. The show started with “Oh,What A Night,” a song I knew all the words to. The audience spent the night singing along as well to all the many hits of The Four Seasons. Just as the first act was ending, the tune “Dawn (Go Away)” started; being the namesake, I have always had an affinity for this song.
Looking around at the elegance of this magnificent playhouse, I realized how nice it was to have this so close to home. There was no long ride into the city or the hassle of parking. I could see a Broadway show right in my home state of New Jersey. It felt pretty awesome too, to sit in this historic landmark, which opened in 1921, originally as a grand movie palace. In fact, the State Theatre has been ranked No. 5 in the world for theaters 2,000 seats and under for the last 15 years by Venues Today.
During the show’s intermission, I flipped through the program and chatted with my friend to see what other plays were coming up next that we could come back and see. The State Theatre offers an orchestra series, dance, pop, rock, comedy, school and family appropriate performances, autism-friendly experiences, a chocolate-and-wine package and even a Thirty30 Club, which offers 30 percent off tickets to select shows to patrons who are under age 30.
“Jersey Boys” — the first presentation of the Broadway smash in the Garden State — was the first of seven offerings in the State Theatre’s 2017-18 Broadway Season. The other shows in the series are “The Sound of Music,” Dec. 22-24; “Cinderella,” Feb. 9-10; “Motown the Musical,” March 23-25; “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” April 6-7; “The Wizard of Oz,” May 4-5; and “Cabaret,” May 18-19. Since there are great restaurants New Brunswick, we said we’d do this again real soon.
More than two hours long, “Jersey Boys” was a hit as the audience rewarded the talented cast with a standing ovation. We headed over the stunning Heldridge Hotel across the street for the cast and crew after-party. Greeted with a selection of wine, we made our way into the room to mingle with special guests and some friends we knew. “Jersey Boys” songs played and guests hopped on the dance floor to show their moves. The music even got me out there, too! It was a great way to end the work week and have some fun.