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‘Jersey Boys’ launching off-Strip production in December

Updated September 16, 2023 - 7:55 am

“Jersey Boys” never referred to their Las Vegas closing as a “hiatus,” the oft-overused term for shows shutting down.

But that’s actually what it was.

The beloved biographical musical based on the legendary Four Seasons rock ‘n’ roll band returns Dec. 21 at Orleans Showroom.

The show is to run 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays, with select 3 p.m. matinee performances. Tickets are on sale Saturday at jerseyboys.vegas.

Ivory Star Productions CEO John Bentham is now “Jersey Boys” lead producer, in partnership with original producers Dodgers Theatricals. Bentham’s company produces Tape Face at MGM Grand, and “Marriage Can Be Murder” and Adam London’s afternoon magic show at The Venue at the Orleans.

Ivory Star also manages The Venue, with “Late Night Magic” and “Lioz Show” magic parody joining the company’s production on the roster.

But “Jersey Boys” is easily the hotel’s crown jewel. It is the only version of the show playing in North America, and the first residency production in Orleans’ 26-year history. The Broadway show ended its 11-year run January 15, 2017, after 4,642 performances at the August Wilson Theatre.

“Jersey Boys” closed out its Las Vegas residency at Paris Theater in September 2016, ending a four-year run at that venue (which is the longest run of any show ever at Paris Theater).

“JB,” as it’s known in shorthand, opened in May 2008 at Palazzo Theater. The show logged 3,300 performances in those two resorts.

In that eight-plus year run, “Jersey Boys” proved to be one of the most popular Broadway-styled musicals to play Las Vegas. It’s a star-crossed list, of course. Broadway has not proven to be a consistently profitable concept in Strip hotels, let alone one on West Tropicana Avenue.

But Bentham says the show has such equity (and Equity) it can flourish at Orleans. Asked if he felt “JB” was the best of the Broadway titles to run in Las Vegas, Bentham said, “I think it’s very fair and accurate statement. It was one of the few shows that, even when it closed, was incredibly popular. An argument could be made that they left while they were still at the very top of their game.”

Since it hauled out of Paris, rumors have crisscrossed the city about “Jersey Boys” possible return, with Golden Nugget and finally Orleans drawing the most intense speculation.

Bentham has been pursuing the show over the past seven years, when he contacted Dodger Theatricals co-founder and partner Michael David about the show’s long-term viability in Las Vegas.

“I just said, ‘Look, this show is not done in Vegas,’ and they agreed,” Bentham said. “So they just said, ‘We’d like you to take over the mantle, and if you find a place that suitable for it, we’d certainly support you.”

The “Jersey Boys” legacy, and music of the Four Seasons, continues to thrive in Las Vegas. Frankie Valli, an original member of the Four Seasons who co-created the musical, headlines a residency at the Westgate starting in October.

Several members of the “Jersey Boys” alumni still live in Vegas. One, Sarah Lowe, is the new show’s assistant director/choreographer.

Travis Cloer (who played Frankie Valli at Palazzo and Paris), music director Keith Thompson and associate MD Philip Fortenberry remain in Vegas (we’d previously said Chris Lash was associate; he was actually a swing associate MD through the show’s run, as was Mike Gonzales).

The Fourmers, made up of former “JB” cast members Douglas Crawford, Jeff Leibow, Dominic Scaglione and Deven May, just performed a showcase at South Point’s Grandview Lounge. Buck Hujabre has developed his own show.

Auditions for onstage roles start the first week of October, rehearsals the second week of November.

Orleans Showroom is a traditional theater, originally designed by Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers for then-hotel owner Michael Gaughan. The venue seats 850, slightly smaller than the Paris and Palazzo theaters when “JB” played there.

But Bentham, who started working with the Orleans and Boyd Gaming officials in 2020, says, “I knew that showroom, and that show, would be just a perfect fit.”

The is positioned as an Actors Equity production, joining “Menopause The Musical” at Harrah’s as the only Equity residency production in Las Vegas. But that distinction might carry an asterisk. Bentham might use Equity and non-Equity performers in the show.

“We’re working right now with Actors Equity, because there have obviously been productions that are Equity and non-Equity,” the veteran producer said. “We’re working to see if they will grant us a waiver so we can have both Equity and non-Equity in the show. We haven’t gotten that far yet, but we have a couple of weeks to plan that out.”

Bentham says the process is to deliver the high standards “Jersey Boys” fans expect.

“We want the absolute best production values, the best cast,” the Ivory Star founder said. “We want the best quality that we have available to us.”

Cool Hang Alert

Renee Hale & Friends take over Maxan Jazz at 7 p.m. Thursday. Hale has been an entertainer and tourism-industry pro for three decades, a wonderful Las Vegas personality. Vegas showman Jonny Bird guests, with Hale’s husband, John “J.D.” Drase on drums, Todd Simon on keys and Danny DeMorales on bass. A $25 F&B minimum per person, go to maxanjazz.com for reservations.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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