by Beki Pineda
MOTONES VS. JERSEYS – Co-created by Kenneth Moten Jr. and Chris Starkey; Directed by Jessica Hindsley. Produced by BDT Stage (5501 Arapahoe) through April 26. Tickets available at 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com.
I’m such a hypocrite. I always have to be dragged kicking and screaming to jukebox musicals . .. . and once there, I have such a good time. Such was the case with MOTONES VS. JERSEYS. I saw the original production of this at Lone Tree Arts Center back in 2016 and reviewed it then, but thought it had been so long ago that I should in all fairness take another look. I have to admit – while I still don’t call these sort of evenings true theatre – they are certainly entertaining. And obviously a big old ka-ching success everywhere they play.The house at Lone Tree was full lo! those many years ago and every table was filled at BDT on a recent Sunday evening. They kept the waitstaff hopping all night long.
The show has played successfully in Fort Collins, Loveland, Candlelight in Johnstown, in addition to Lone Tree and a previous engagement here at BDT. The beauty of the concept is that any eight really talented male singers can probably do the show. The original show in Lone Tree included creator Kenny Moten and seven other singer/dancers. The current re-invention at BDT does not include any of the original group but these eight guys are equally if not more talented. It’s pitched as a battle royale between the devotees of Motown music against the Frankie Vallie-type music of the Jersey Boys. Each group gets to sing their style of music back and forth for the audience who are then encouraged to vote via a app on their phone to decide who is the winner for the evening. I honestly could not tell you who won the night I attended; winners are so incidental to the fun and good music being shared. This is all music from the 50’s and 60’s that we can sing along with – another activity that’s encouraged.
The world is full of good music from artists like Marvin Gaye, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys, the Beatles, Herman’s Hermits . . . most tunes you will readily recognize. Patrons of all ages were singing along and dancing in the aisles. The Motones opened with “Living in America,” honored the Brits with “Hard Day’s Night,” did a gorgeous rendition of “My Eyes Adored You,” celebrated Freaky Friday with “In the Still of the Night,” and rocked out with the Jersey’s on “Proud Mary.” Not to be outdone, the Jerseys brought us “Eye of the Tiger,” “Yesterday,” the iconic “Heard it on the Grapevine,” and a rocking version of “Uptown Funk.” The whole audience participated in Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” and Barret Harper’s version of “Sheree (Sheree Baby)” channeled the original Frankie Valli perfectly. So much amazing music.
This configuration of the Jerseys included Barret Harper, Will Hawkins, Brian Jackson, and Jacob Villarreal (all BDT regulars). Their opponents on the Motone side were Amon Johnson (making his BDT debut), Richard Peacock (in for the show from Seattle), local favorite Alejandro Roldan, and Tezz Yancy (headed to Las Vegas after Boulder). The evening was moderated by Jalyn Webb (from Midtown Theatre in Fort Colllins) who kept the boys in line and added her own voice to a version of “Preacher’s Son” as well as several songs with the boys. A good time was had by all.
A WOW factor of 8.5!!