'Jersey Boys' director Eastwood puts high value on cast, script

Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:25pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Director Clint Eastwood saw three versions of the Tony Award winning musical before casting the film adaptation of "Jersey Boys," which charts the rise of 1960s pop-vocal group The Four Seasons from the mean streets of New Jersey to the top of the charts.

With hit songs like "Sherry," "Rag Doll," "Dawn" and "Big Girls Don't Cry," the rags-to-riches tale of the group's struggle to overcome their humble beginnings, "Jersey Boys" won four Tonys, including best musical, in 2006.

Eastwood, 84, knew that finding the right actors was the key to transforming the hit juke-box musical, among the longest running shows on Broadway, into the film that opens in U.S. theaters on Friday.

"Casting for me is one of the most important things next to the writing," Eastwood, a double Oscar-winner for "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby," told a news conference.

"If you cast it properly it takes place very easily, but if you cast it improperly you are fighting an uphill battle."

Instead of opting for Hollywood names, Eastwood went back to the stage to find his stars. John Lloyd Young recreates his Tony-winning role as singer Frankie Valli, whose falsetto tenor propelled the group to the big time.

Erich Bergen, as songwriter/keyboard player Bob Gaudio, who composed many of the group's hits, and Michael Lomenda, as bass guitarist Nick Massi, reprise their touring company roles.

Boardwalk Empire's Vincent Piazza, who plays hot-headed manager and lead guitarist Tommy DeVito, knows the only way out of the neighborhood is to join the Army, the mob or get famous. Piazza is the only member of the group who was not in a stage production.   Continued...

Christopher Walken, Angelo Galasso and Clint Eastwood attend the premiere of Jersey Boys in New York June 9, 2014.  REUTERS/Andrew Kelly