The Midtown Men is an unusual proposition.
The four former cast members of Broadway's "Jersey Boys" aren't exactly a Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tribute act, though they performed all or parts of 11 of the group's enduring songs Wednesday at the Plaza Theatre, part of its 2012-2013 Broadway series.
They're not exactly doing a Broadway revue, either.
The Midtown Men are really a '60s tribute act, honoring and having fun with the more innocent, romantic sounds of that turbulent decade, mostly songs that came before men wore long hair, bell bottoms and love beads. They look the part, and they dress it, complete with skinny ties and short hair.
They're four relatively young guys, most in their 30s, performing songs like the Turtles' "Happy Together," the Mamas and the Papas' "California Dreamin'" and the Association's "Never My Love" in four-part harmony.
The Midtown Men — Michael Longoria, Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer — met while working on "Jersey Boys" in the mid-2000s. Longoria started out playing Joe Pesci, the actor who helped get the group together in the early '60s, and took over the role of Frankie Valli a couple of years later. Hoff won a Tony Award for his portrayal Tommy DeVito, the band's baritone and lead guitarist. Reichard played keyboardist and songwriter Bob Gaudio. Spencer played bassist Nick Massi.
The group's members told a crowd of about 1,700 that they fell in love with the music of the '60s when they were in the Broadway show. Not just the Four Seasons' sweet sounds, but other songs from the decade that they learned during their downtime backstage.
It was reflected in a set list that honed almost entirely to the decade — save a couple of Four Seasons' '70s hits. It veered from the playful prefab pop of the Monkees' "Daydream Believer" to an oddly fitting version of the Ides of March's horn-driven "Vehicle" to a spot-on rendition of the Zombies' "Time of the Season," complete with hand claps and breathy exclamations.
They sprinkled in plenty of Motown, though too many of those great songs were crammed into a six-song medley that included a velvety version of the Temptations' "Just My Imagination" and a take on the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" disfigured by Longoria's Michael Jackson-on-helium vocal.
The group, originally known as the Boys in Concert before a lawsuit forced a name change, has a clear reverence for the material and the period. They're too young to be nostalgic about it, but not so young that they don't know how to have fun with it.
They talked and joked frequently, including Spencer's recitation of the first verse of Marty Robbins' "El Paso," and Reichard's praise for the historic Plaza. "This place is absolutely spectacular," he said.
Their harmonies weren't as tight as one would expect, and, at times, the pitchy, sometimes off-key nature of Longoria's vocals — he sounded comfortable with his falsetto, shakier in the lower registers — threw things out of balance.
But what they lacked in precision the group made up for in reverent energy, especially in the stronger second half of the nearly two-hour, 21-song performance. In fact, some songs, like "California Dreamin'" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" were played too quickly. They might want to lay off the Red Bull before they take the stage.
There were several standout performances. Reichard, who has the most powerful voice, turned "Cry for Me" into a convincing tour de force. Their version of the Rascals' "Groovin'" confidently captured its relaxed Sunday afternoon feel. The quartet's harmonies were particularly tight and muscular on "River Deep Mountain High," with which they opened the second half, and that six-song Motown medley near the end.
The Midtown Men are a tribute act with a difference. They're four younger guys interested less in nostalgia than they are in having fun, fun, fun.