By Anthony Coelho
It’s not often you see a block full of 1960s vintage Fords with a film crew commanded by Clint Eastwood, but last week the residents of Kearny were blessed with such a sight, as the movie adaptation of the jukebox musical “Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons” was filming on Elm St. between Stuyvesant and Seeley Aves.
Earlier this year, IMDb (Internet Movie Database) reported that the production would begin in the summer of 2013, stretching until the start of 2014.
The Broadway hit “Jersey Boys” (book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice; music from Bob Gaudio and lyrics from Bob Crewe) has been running since 2005, and in 2006 it won four Tony Awards, including the one for Best Musical. The plot of “Jersey Boys” recreates the rise and fall of 1960s rock & roll group The Four Seasons, which was born just across the river in Belleville.
The film crew had everything set in place the day before the scheduled shoot. Make-up and hair were being done out of two trailers parked in front of St. Stephen’s Church, at Kearny and Laurel Aves.
Eastwood, the director (whom some might think a surprising choice for a musical), arrived on the scene at about 11a.m. on Wednesday. By nightfall, filming was well underway in front of Matson’s Bar & Grill, as well as inside a resident’s home.
Eastwood was present throughout, directing actors and props, even salvaging some time to interact with the locals by posing for pictures.
Mayra Hopson, the owner of the film-featured home, received a letter two months ago stating that the film crew was interested in using her living room as a spot for a scene. Hopson said the crew replaced her front door and screen door, and even put more shrubs in the front yard.
By 7:30 p.m., the crowd of Kearny residents had depleted, and the film crew was just about wrapping things up after a successful day of shooting.
Among the parade of people on Elm St. that day was the front man of The Four Seasons, Frankie Valli, who was also sharing some laughs and moments with the fans.
Valli, who scored a total of 29 Top 40 hits with The Four Seasons, was most famous for his grand falsetto voice.
In the movie, Valli is played by John Lloyd Young, the actor who originated the role on Broadway and won the 2006 Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical.
Other cast members are: Christopher Walken as Gyp DeCarlo, Vincent Piazza (who was also in Kearny last Wednesday) as Tommy DeVito, Freya Tingley as Francine Valli, and Kathrine Narducci as Frankie Valli’s mother
Piazza and Narducci were also featured in the hit television show “The Sopranos,” of which most Kearnyites are well aware since scenes were often shot in Kearny and the surrounding areas.
The release date for the “Jersey Boys” movie had not been announced, but whenever it does premiere, “Oh What a Night” that’s sure to be.