‘Jersey Boys’ — oh, what a nightThe award-winning show “Jersey Boys” is about to leave Chicago. So, I decided to get tickets for myself and my girls, ages 13, 10 and 8, to attend a matinee. “Jersey Boys” is, of course, the Broadway smash about the rise of that crooning quartet called the Four Seasons. The experience ended up being an interesting lesson in today’s moral sensibilities.
By: Betsy Hart, The Dickinson Press
The award-winning show “Jersey Boys” is about to leave Chicago. So, I decided to get tickets for myself and my girls, ages 13, 10 and 8, to attend a matinee. “Jersey Boys” is, of course, the Broadway smash about the rise of that crooning quartet called the Four Seasons.
The experience ended up being an interesting lesson in today’s moral sensibilities.
Here’s what I mean: Only after I splurged on the pricey tickets did I have a few people say to me things like “Wow, um, are you sure you want to take the girls? I’ve heard the show has pretty rough language.” Wait a minute. This is a musical about the adorable Frankie Valli. You know, “You’re Just Too Good to Be True” Frankie Valli. Sure, “Oh ,What a Night” was kinda racy, but we are not exactly talking Mick Jagger here. Right?
The official Web site wasn’t particularly descriptive. So I started researching and finding all sorts of cautions on the Web declaring that the show was in no way appropriate for kids. Wrote one blogger, “The language is filthy. (And I’m a foul-mouthed ex-New Yorker married to a sailor, so I know what I’m talking about!)”
It turns out the Four Seasons had a certain level of “wise-guy” roots. Who knew?
It happened that my best friend and her husband were to attend a performance just before we were. A mom of five, she and I have similar sensibilities. She went to “Jersey Boys” tasked with scouting it out for me. Late that night I received a text from her saying, “The show was ‘f’cking’ fantastic!” (She has a great sense of humor.) “Seriously, it’s OK for the girls.”
Phew. Off we went. In the meantime, I had noted that our tickets referred to “adult” fares. Had I missed some special children’s rate? Upon arriving at the theater, I decided to ask. In response to my query the fellow in the box office simply snarled, “Children should not be seeing this show. Period!”
Well, that answered that. Clearly, I was the “bad mom.” In we went. I noticed more than a few scornful looks.
Sure enough, there was some crude language (and a brief fully-clothed brothel scene, if one knows what a brothel is). But what dominated was really great music, great dialogue and the true and fascinating story behind a famous band.
My girls loved it. They came out singing the songs and practicing the dance steps, not repeating the f-bomb. They are now officially Frankie Valli fans. How great is that?
I could have done without the foul talk. Hey, I’m thrilled when we watch movies like “High School Musical” and “Elf” that are all sweetness and light. (It’s actually cynicism that bothers me far more than bad language.) And no, the Four Seasons were hardly moral role models. But at least some “real life” gives me a chance to talk about, well, real life and real life’s consequences with my kids. And do we ever. That’s important, too.
I couldn’t help but wonder about the people upset at the thought of having kids exposed to some foul background language in “Jersey Boys.” Are they more outraged at a culture that encourages so much worse?
I am far more upset over pop-culture depictions in the “cleanest” of shows in which divorce, broken or dysfunctional families and sex outside of marriage — teen or otherwise — is normalized with little objection. From parents or anyone.
And I know loving moms and dads who would wince at the idea of their 10-year-old seeing “Jersey Boys,” but who openly admit they wouldn’t try to encourage that same child to refrain from sex as a teen. Much less hold off until marriage.
It’s easy to take a moral stand over something relatively superficial like foul language. And sure, there’s a time and a place to do it. I’m just increasingly seeing that it’s harder for this parent to take moral stands over things that actually require something of us and our kids.
Harder, but maybe more necessary than ever. That reminder was definitely worth the ticket price of “Jersey Boys” for this mom. Oh, what a night!
— Hart hosts the “It Takes a Parent” radio show in Chicago. E-mail her at email@example.com.