Valli Triumphs Over Noisy Production at Paramount

For those of us lucky enough to have grown up attending Saturday movie matinees as kids at New York’s beautiful Peekskill Paramount Theatre in the 1950’s, it was a sad era when the theatre fell into decline some years later and eventually closed. I remember praying that the decaying structure would somehow be revived, but I could not have dreamed my prayers would be answered as loudly as was the case last Saturday night in the beautifully restored interior of this classic theatre constructed in 1930. The occasion was Peekskill’s one night concert from “Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons.” The house was packed with a Father’s Day crowd that was largely of the not-so-young generation that had rocked to Mr. Valli’s many hits back in the 1960’s. Trust me, those fans are rocking still, and so, thank goodness, are Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.

In the vernacular, the concert was a blast, but that was not always a good thing. The major flaw in this otherwise fun-filled night of great music was an unexplainable decision by the producers, musical director, and/or sound engineers, to over-amplify the proceedings. This was unfortunate because Mr. Valli and the fabulous quartet of talented young men he has assembled to be the current Four Seasons, were all in great voice, and had no need to be drowned out by the equally outstanding musicians who accompanied them. Perhaps the excess volume was aimed at Mr. Valli himself, who, in 1980, had a series of ear operations aimed at curing his growing deafness.

All that aside, few would have guessed that Valli had just turned 70 years old as he and his handsome young backup singers (heirs to the original group) rocked the room throughout the evening with a wonderful program of tunes that were very familiar to fans that remembered the group’s Golden Age from 1962-68. That very musical trip back through time included such gems as “Oh, What a Night,” “Bye-Bye, Baby (Baby Goodbye),” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “Dawn (Go Away),” “Let’s Hang On,” “Swearin’ to God,“ and memorable renditions of both “My Eyes Adored You,” and “Workin’ My Way Back to You.” Other audience favorites that brought cheers from the crowd included the 1967 million-seller, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” the group’s Number One hits, “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” and “Rag Doll,” as well as “Stay,” (with amazing falsetto work from Valli, accompanied by exceptional musicianship from both piano and dual saxophones). By the time the show was over, it was easy to see how the group had earned induction (1990) into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, while having sold over 100 million records worldwide, making them the most successful white doo-wop group in rock and roll history.

About The People's Critic

David Dow Bentley III, writes columns about the performing arts which are featured in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast. A member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), The International Theatre Critics Association, and America's oldest theatrical club, The Lambs, he also had long service as the editor of The Lambs' Script magazine. Mr. Bentley may be contacted via e-mail at
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