OGUNQUIT, Maine — The best things in life are worth repeating — memorable meals, spectacular sunrises, wondrous walks. So, too, is savoring "Jersey Boys" more than once.
Audiences have that chance this month and into mid-June with the energetic musical's return to open the Ogunquit Playhouse's 87th season. The captivating biographical jukebox show about the rise and fall of the iconic Four Seasons, the 1960s, Jersey-based quartet, closed the Playhouse's 86th season last fall. It boasted packed houses and standing ovations at each performance then and will do the same with this reincarnation, which is more satisfying in many ways than last year's production.
Instead of taking the Four Seasons' hits — "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man," "December '63 (Oh, What a Night), "My Eyes Adored You," "Dawn" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," among others — and wrapping a fictitious plot around them like the ABBA musical "Mamma Mia!," book writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice chose to weave the songs into the Four Seasons' real rags-to-riches-back-to-rags story.
During the 2 1/2-hour show, each band member — Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio, Nick Massi and, of course, Frankie Valli — steps forward to take a turn at sharing his version of their story, aptly broken down into spring, summer, fall and winter segments.
Their rise to glory on the charts, after a succession of challenges and mediocre dates in seedy clubs and bowling alleys, is thanks to Gaudio's songwriting genius and Valli's miraculously angelic voice. But there's constant friction, too, caused by DeVito's conceit, mismanagement, money woes and gambling problems.
In Act II, the group breaks up and Valli suffers the personal tragedy of his daughter's drug-overdose death, even while achieving fame as a solo act. In the end, though, they reunite for a final night of glory, on stage again as they're inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the pinnacle of success for any musician. It's one of several goosebump-inducing moments in the show.
Most talented cast members return, including the four principals. That's part of the show's success, since they developed a camaraderie last year that bursts forth now in each song and dance sequence they perform. There's more heart and vitality, and much livelier choreography this time around. They're having fun, and that spills into the audience.
Each "Boy" is a joy to watch. Matt Magnusson, all self-confident swagger and on-point Jersey accent, nails it as Tommy DeVito. So, too, do Andy Christopher, as brilliant songwriter and intrepid music pro Bob Gaudio, and Matthew Amira, funny and forthcoming as Nick Massi, the self-proclaimed Ringo Starr of the quartet. And Jonathan Mousset is perfect as Frankie Valli. His looks resemble the young Frankie that this Jersey girl recalls, and his voice rivals Valli's in every tune.
Other stand-outs include Tommy Martinez, a new Joe Pesci (yes, that Joe Pesci) from last season and Doug Storm, returning as the flamboyant Bob Crewe, the producer who wisely decided to record the Four Seasons.
Kudos and standing ovations to "Jersey Boys" at the Playhouse. It surpasses the national tour in Boston over a decade ago and is more heartfelt than last year's production. It you haven't seen it, go. And, if you have, go again — like Maine Gov. Janet Mills, who attended opening night last September and was dancing in the aisles again last Friday.
It's a fabulous night of musical theater.
Jersey Boys runs through June 15 at the Ogunquit Playhouse, Ogunquit, Maine. Call 207-646-5511 or visit www.OgunquitPlayhouse.org.