‘Jersey Boys’ heads to Scranton Cultural Center through Jan. 22
SCRANTON — Aaron DeJesus used to get a kick out of bending and manipulating his voice, just to hear the different ways it could sound.
“When you’re a kid, you’re fascinated with those British accents,” he said in a telephone interview. “And my Dad had a New York/New Jersey accent because he was born and raised in the Bronx. That was fun to play with.”
In recent months DeJesus has given his voice another task: Hit the high falsetto notes, the way Frankie Valli did in such hits as “Rag Doll,” “Walk Like a Man” and “Sherry,” or as you may remember that last one: “SHE—E—E—E—E—R—RE— BA—A—BE.”
DeJesus sings those songs and more in “Jersey Boys,” a touring show the Broadway Theatre League of Northeast Pennsylvania will bring to the Scranton Cultural Center Jan. 17-22.
The show tells the story of The Four Seasons — Valli, Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi — whose hits topped the charts in the 1960s and ’70s.
“Whether you grew up then, or not, you’ve heard their music,” DeJesus said. “If you’ve been alive and have ears, you’ve heard it on oldies stations, commercials, TV and movies.”
Maintaining the soaring vocals in “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Working My Way Back to You” and other numbers isn’t painful, the singer said.
“No, thank heaven, it doesn’t hurt. It is exhausting vocally, physically and emotionally, but it doesn’t hurt. If it did, I’d be doing something wrong.”
One song he particularly enjoys is “Beggin’,” which comes at a point in the show when Valli asks a reputed mobster for help dealing with a loan shark. “There’s so much tension and angst,” DeJesus said.
Gambling debts, mob ties and brushes with the law were part of The Four Seasons’ story, but they’re a far cry from DeJesus’ real life, in which he follows the tenets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to avoid alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.
“I do adhere,” said DeJesus, who earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from Brigham Young University. “I don’t drink or smoke. I don’t party. I live my life the best I can. I don’t get any flak for it.”
The best part of touring with the show, the singer said, is meeting fans of The Four Seasons who tell them the music is part of their lives.
“Maybe they played ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You’ at their wedding,” he said. “Or they might say something like they remember where they were when JFK was shot, when Sept. 11 happened, and the first time they heard ‘Sherry.’”
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT
IF YOU GO
What: ‘Jersey Boys’
Presented by: Broadway Theatre League of Northeast Pennsylvania
Where: Scranton Cultural Center, 420 N. Washington Ave., Scranton
When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 18, 19; 8 p.m. Jan. 20; 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 21; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Jan. 22