Jersey Boys If you're ever asked, "What's the best 'jukebox musical' ever?" here's a sure tip for all you theater junkies — Jersey Boys. You will not see a slicker musical. The music resonates. It's instant catnip for baby boomers. Boys is specially gifted because it has a whole raft of solid gold hits from which to glean: the entire Four Seasons catalog. You can't go wrong with "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry" or "Walk Like a Man." With some poetic license from book writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, the songs fit chronologically in the order they were recorded and dovetail with the story of the guys' rise to fame. These petty hoods are so damned lovable, we root for their success right from the start. Standing on a street corner in rustbelt New Jersey, they love to sing, harmonizing like roughhouse angels, and they have a chance to make it if they can stay out of jail long enough to form a group. When Tommy (Colby Foytik), the most prickly of the four with unsavory mob ties, brings in young Frankie Valli (Brad Weinstock) with his amazing vocal range to join Tommy and modest musician friend Nick (Brandon Andrus) in their new band, the course is set. Later, when songwriter Bob Gaudio (Jason Kappus), who would pen their biggest hits with lyricist/producer Bob Crewe (Barry Anderson), is introduced to the trio, the new quartet coalesces with an unflagging rightness. All four guys narrate the story, adding pieces to each other's puzzle. Everyone gets his say, and this cohesion among the guys is an unwritten theme of the show, as are loyalty and keeping your word to your buddies. Excluding the great songs, these old-fashioned values go a long way in making Jersey Boys so appealing. In spite of the infighting, personal demons and obstacles to be overcome on the march to the top of the charts, this is a very "up" show — another of its many charms. The four Boys are outstanding: Foytik is all macho bluster as wayward petty gangster Tommy, titular head of the group; Andrus is lovingly low-key as unassuming Nick, the group's master arranger; Kappus supplies a charming steel to boyish hit-maker composer Bob; and Weinstock goes from not-quite-so-innocent adolescent to grown-up survivor — with splendid falsetto pipes — as Frankie. Director Des McAnuff, who's led the show since its 2004 inception at San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse, keeps it spinning smartly with the sleekness of a top-40s DJ. This accomplished musical story of our own American Fab Four, still running on Broadway and breaking records on tour, amazes anew. When the four principals blend their voices in any of their classic songs — "Big Man in Town," "Dawn," "Working My Way Back to You," "Let's Hang On" — musical theater just doesn't get any better. Oh, what a night, indeed! Through March 31. Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby, 800-982- 2787. — DLG

Waiting for Godot Following the acclaimed success last year of its production of Samuel Beckett's End Game, the Catastrophic Theatre dares greatly yet again, and has mounted the most famous and most produced of Beckett's plays. The two central characters are Estragon, who is dominant, and Vladimir, more nurturing, dressed in remnants of once respectable clothes. They are old friends, deeply committed to each other, and the symbiotic relationship, the mutual need, the rich co-dependency are palpable and brought to pulsing, vibrant life by two brilliant actors: Charlie Scott as Estragon and Greg Dean as Vladimir. They wait in a wasteland for an appointment with a Mr. Godot. Appointments are made, new acquaintances are met and re-met, a messenger adds an element of ambiguity, a man is blinded and a slave mistreated. The narrative is linear — essentially so, since Beckett dares us to face our own mortality, and has given us an example of how two men cope with this inconvenient truth. The acquaintances they make are Pozzo, wealthy, who's on his way to sell his slave, ironically named Lucky. Kyle Sturdivant plays Pozzo, etching a memorable portrait of smugness and vanity; Troy Schulze brings his rich talents to Lucky, creating a vivid characterization of an abused servant. In a cameo role, young Ty Doran is compelling as the messenger from Mr. Godot. The work is brilliantly directed by Jason Nodler, artistic director of the Catastrophic Theatre, who makes every moment interesting. The connection between the characters is dynamic — even Vladimir's brief interaction with the messenger sparks with need, hope and disillusion. A deep, intriguing, insightful play is brought to exciting life in a brilliant production — don't miss its breathtaking power and superb acting. Through April 13. 1119 East Fwy., 713-522-2723. — JJT

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