'Jersey Boys' to men: Former Four Seasons members to embark on nationwide tour
May 15, 2012, 7:42 AM EST FAIR LAWN, N.J. (AP) — In a basement in a quiet suburb 10 miles west of Manhattan, the characters of a bygone era in pop music are brought to life in mellifluous four-part harmony. Sherry is there, deciding whether or not to come out tonight. So are Dawn, the girl from the nice part of town, and Marianne, trying to understand her man.
This is hardly your average baby boomer garage band, though: Made up of former members of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, this weekend they officially launch a nationwide reunion tour as "The Hit Men" that will take them through next May. The venues are more modest than the sold-out arenas they played to across the globe in the '70s, but don't tell that to drummer Gerry Polci, keyboardist Lee Shapiro and guitarist Don Ciccone — they're having way too much fun. "Guys at our age say, 'Let's go to a golf course, let's go and fish,'" Shapiro said. "We get paid to do this, to go out and have our reunion. It's great."
Spurred by the runaway success of “Jersey Boys,” the Tony Award-winning 2005 Broadway musical based on the Four Seasons’ career, Polci — the lead singer on “December 1963 (Oh, What A Night),” the group’s last No. 1 hit — and the others, all in their late 50s and early 60s, decided to re-form, along with an A-list group of studio musicians, and give touring one more shot.
I have to share an unexpected experience with you. I booked a show called "The Hit Men" from a cold call email that looked interesting, It boasted a band that comprised the Four Seasons, Carly Simon (guitar player), Jim Croce, Tommy James and the Shondells, Cat Stevens, etc.This show was spectacular! I have never had anything that good in the small hall. These guys are the real McCoy. They were the 4 seasons that were real singers and arrangers. The true musicians playing that music that took it from kids to iconic. The house came down from the first medley. They actually build the show like almost no other act we've had. I'm bringing them back next year and hope to build an annual following. They're represented by BiCoastal Productions. Go get 'em. You won't believe it!
Director-Production/Programming, The Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples, FL
I’ve gotten nothing but rave reviews about the Hit Men performance here last Saturday. Comments like “there was such great energy coming from the stage,” and “the vocals were amazing” to “Russ moves like a white James Brown” and finally “when can you get them back” have been the norm. Others really liked hearing all the stories they had to tell about the many artists the guys had worked with over the years, but most of all it was the quality of the music. Even when we lost power two hours before the show, Lee and the guys were ready to do an all-acoustic set to make sure our Gala audience left satisfied. Lucky for us the power came back on so we could experience the full show in all its glory. Every promoter needs to know that this show is a sure bet!
Russell J. Wicker
Director, Foundation Performing Arts & Conference Center, Isothermal Community College, Spindale NC
The Hit Men show here last night was fabulous! Thank you so much for bringing them to us…Our audience was singing and dancing all night – every song was a top hit – no B side songs. It was fun to see our 60+ year olds having such a great time! The show was a sell-out more than 30 days ahead. The Hit Men have an extensive fan base and their “Jersey Boys” connection was a great marketing tool for our south Florida audience. Can’t wait to have them back in 2015!
On March 28, 2013, Castleton State College presented The Hit Men. Their on-campus residency began with a one-hour presentation in which the artists shared their experiences over long careers in the music industry....and ...inspired many of our Music Majors to follow their passions. They returned that night to perform in front of a packed house. A mixed audience of college students and the general public of all ages. The concert was absolutely amazing. The usually stoic Vermont audience responded to each of their music numbers with an enthusiasm that led to spontaneous dancing in the aisles. Their show took the older audience members back to their youth as well as presenting the younger audience with a demonstrative history of American rock 'n roll. The feedback was so phenomenally positive that they would like to bring The Hit Men back to Castleton in the very near future.
Mariko Y. Hancock
Director of Cultural Programming, Castleton State College, Castleton, VT
The Hit Men just keep bringing them. One after another, as their name says, hit after hit. Rather, I should say, amazing hit after more amazing hit. Hits that sounded just the way I remembered them from my youth. Hits that made my audience stand, hits that made my audience fall in love. Hits they will soon play again when we rebook them.
President, Not Just Jazz and Cabaret Club, Lake Worth, FL
The Hit Men with comedian John Carfi were received extremely well. The band is a party....Comprised of musicians from many of the popular music acts of the 60's, 70's, and 80's, every song they played was a Billboard Chart hit. The band had the incredible ability to reproduce these rockin' songs to sound exactly like the original recordings. That's likely because they were the original artists who sang on most of them. Our audience (somewhat younger than our regular patrons) reacted with great enthusiasm to the music. Comedian John Carfi is funny, topical and clean and a great addition to this show. Working with The Hit Men was a presenter's dream - no fuss, lots of talent.
Executive and Artistis Director, Queensborough Performing Arts Center, Bayside, NY
Thank you for bringing The Hit Men to the Landis Theater. It was a truly exceptional night with people literally dancing in the aisles! In addition to a superb program of classic rock and pop hits, the personal stories of each band member brings the audience behind the scenes and gives them a glimpse into the history of some of their favorite artists and recordings. It is also evident that the band enjoys what they are doing and this infuses the evening with the spirit of good times and a party atmosphere.The Hit Men are a pleasure to work with and we look forward to seeing them back at the Landis Theater soon.
Artistic Director, Appel Farms Arts & Music Center at the Landis, Vineland NJ
The Hit Men really “hit the mark” with our audience. The response was incredible and the show was well attended and everyone leaving the theatre asked me to bring them back. I already have a date confirmed for Wednesday, February 13/13.
Executive Director, The Sunrise Theatre, Ft. Pierce, FL
For my own part, I could not have been happier. The show was great. I don't remember a time when we have had a standing ovation in the middle of the show. Comments afterwards were outstanding. I also really appreciated the extra mile that Lee Shapiro went with the local newspaper and a Buffalo radio station to promote last minute sales. We did 82 tickets in one day which is double what we normally do on one day and I attribute this to Lee's efforts. Please feel free to use me as a reference. This group is going to make anyone with audience members 55 and old and up very happy.
Director, Rockefeller Arts Center, SUNY Fredonia, NY
After hurricane Sandy and a freak snowstorm it was becoming doubtful that the Hit Men were even going to be able to get to the Brunswick Community College Odell Williamson Auditorium for a 7:30 curtain on November 8. There were no flights that morning out of New York or New Jersey but the “Real Jersey Boys” were not deterred. They rented a van and set off for Philly and then by plane on to North Carolina. They were late getting in but they wasted no time in getting set up and doing a sound check. From the first note till the last there was never any doubt, “These guys are the real deal”.
Lee Shapiro, a member of the Four Seasons and the leader has put together a group of seasoned pros that bring the music of the 60s, 70s and 80s back just the way we remember it, because after all they did the first time.
A note to other presenters: The Hit Men are all real pros, very easy to work with, grateful for whatever you do for them and willing to sign autographs and take pictures all night.
Mike Sapp Director, Brunswick Community College, Odell Williamson Auditorium,
I just did this show- it was amazing- great response and sold well. I highly recommend it. We’re going to bring it back next year for sure.
Executive Director, The Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT
The Hit Men were TERRIFIC .... our audiences LOVED them! Both nights were sold out. The guys were delightful both ON and OFF stage ... all were perfect gentlemen and a joy to talk with !
They will be high on the list for 2015!
Executive Director, Township Center for Performing Arts, Coconut Creek, FL
The Kate crowd got up on their feet and wouldn’t let go as the Hit Men segued from hit to hit to hit. We’re already discussing a return date for 2013.
Executive Director, The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Old Saybrook, CT
Great show Great sales--who could ask for more! I have been executive producer for the series for 20 years and several subscribers told me The Hit Men was the best show they have seen. It is the top seller for this season and the guys sold out their CDs as well.
Executive Producer, Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, Greenvale, NY
I've been Music & Entertainment Chairman for the Bristol, RI 4th of July Committee for five years and have presented just under a hundred shows. The Hit Men's performance this year, without any doubt, has been the best we've ever seen. Their crowd pleasing repertoire and presentation were beyond what anyone anticipated. their vocals and stage presence were truly astounding. their courteous and professional attitude towards the sound and lighting crews was a welcome attribute from a group of real pros. and they drew 4000 extremely pleased people! I'd bring them back in a heartbeat.
Music & Entertainment Chairman, Bristol's Annual Fourth of July Celebration, Bristol, RI
I cannot begin to tell you what a hit The Hit Men were this past Saturday night at the 21st Annual Pawley’s Island Festival of Music & Art. This was the final night of a two week festival and I can tell you they were a hit.
They had over 700 adults on their feet clapping and dancing most of the night. These are extremely talented musicians and our guests loved the music they played. They completely sold out of CDs.
And, the guys were just great to work with. They were very accomodating, played two long sets, plus an encore. It was much more than we expected.
What a night we had. One for the books!
Executive Director, Pawley’s Island Festival of Music & Art
I think I have to say The Hit Men was my all time favorite. I loved the music first, but equally enjoyed the stories that accompanied each song. The guys were wonderful to work with (just as you said) and our audience had a great time. Over and over I had patrons request we have them back! I did briefly worry about some of my older patrons (those past 70) when the volume cranked up, but no one complained.
It was a great show. I hope to have the privilege of having them back again. I am pretty sure they ran out of CD’s.
Thanks for helping make it happen.
Artistic Director, Brauntex Performing Arts Theater Association
When The Hit Men play anywhere near you, go see them! In only their second gig, they were incredibly tight and polished last night at BB King's in New York City. It was a fabulous show, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
The Huffington Post
What can I say??? Better than advertised---The Hit Men blew the crowd out of the water. They are better than the last time I saw Frankie Valli---they hit all the notes, and, the stories were great! 756 seats at $35 a pop made for a great evening for us at the Broadway Theatre, and I am looking forward to having the show back there in February---the people would have bought tickets if I had them there. I am already working on several other locations to bring the show --- I'll be back at you shortly---now that I have seen it live! Incredible---two standing Os!
Had ANOTHER great time seeing The Hit Men on Friday night. The place was sold out - and rockin all night. They were actually FILMING the show for a "Hit Men Reality Show"??? Really???? Anyway - the guys are just so much fun to watch and listen to. They are up there having such a good time - so laid back and relaxed - they sing - they tell stories - we just LOVE them. To tell you the truth - I'm loving these guys MORE than when they were with Frankie. Whatever they are doing - I hope they keep it going. According to their schedule - it doesn't look like we'll be seeing them again any time soon. Boo Hoo! Sure hope they perform in the area soon. I need my FIX again.