Wednesday, June 18, 2014 | 1:33 p.m.
“Jersey Boys” the movie premiered in Las Vegas at AMC Town Square 18 on Monday night, and the cast of “Jersey Boys” at Paris Las Vegas watched it for the first time: Principal performers Travis Cloer (Frankie Valli), Jeff Liebow (Nick Massi), Deven May (Tommy DeVito) and Jason Kappus (who has recently replaced Rob Marnell as Bob Gaudio).
The film is a general retelling of the tale of the Tony Award-winning musical at Paris Las Vegas with far more emphasis late in the film on Valli’s family life and the death of his daughter, Francine. Highlights from the film were the performances by Erich Bergen as Gaudio and Vincent Piazza as DeVito.
Bergen, from the original Las Vegas cast that opened at Palazzo in 2008 and the first national tour of “Jersey Boys,” is a star waiting to happen. This guy has all the tools, and his spirited performance in the film should be a surprise to no one who saw him onstage in Las Vegas — in “Jersey Boys,” the touring production of “Anything Goes” at the Smith Center and at his frequent appearances at the Liberace Museum in Composers Showcase.
“It was great to see it, and I know Erich so well, and having performed with him onstage — it would almost be easier to watch the film if we didn’t know people in it,” Leibow said. “It’s a little distracting to watch your friends up there, especially doing things we’ve seen a thousand times onstage. … We are so proud of him and the whole cast.”
It’ll be interesting to track fans’ response and critics’ reviews of the film. It is not a great movie, in my view, not in the class of the multiple-Oscar-winning film “Chicago” among adaptations of musicals over the past decade.
But the actors in Las Vegas say the film is certainly good enough to recharge interest in the musical, which has been running on the Strip over the past six years and on Broadway since 2005.
“(Director) Clint Eastwood is behind it, Christopher Walken (who plays the major role of Gyp) is in it, and people who haven’t seen the show are going to come out to see this movie,” Liebow said. “It’s a very understated movie, all about the story, and people coming to the stage show won’t be seeing exactly the same thing. It’s a much different experience.”