"Friday will be 675," Wordley explains by phone, laughing. The retired theatregoer (she worked for an insurance company for 28 years) is an "honest-to-God Jersey girl," herself — and proud of it.
"I am from Bergen County — up near where Bob Gaudio is from, near Bergenfield," she says, "and I grew up on the music. I have to admit I knew the music from when it first came out. I was like nine or ten at the time, and I've always been following The Four Seasons, and I just love listening to the music. These guys are just fantastic when they sing it. So that's why I keep coming back. One big reason why I come back is the music."
The music has been going strong at the August Wilson since 2005, when it opened on Broadway and took home four Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Wordley went for the first time in April 2008, after her late father's accountant said, "You've got to see this play. It's just phenomenal — the music… Just close your eyes and tell me you're not listening to The Four Seasons!"
After about a year of trying to score a ticket (in the early 2000s, Jersey Boys was one of the hottest tickets in town, although it still plays on average to a 90-percent full crowd ten years later), Wordley finally made the trip. She loved the show, but her fandom didn't kick in until the following year. She returned with her cousin, who was visiting from Arizona, and was so impressed with the actor playing Frankie Valli that she was hooked.
"It was Jarrod Spector," she says (Spector made his Broadway debut in Jersey Boys and played Valli for 1,500 performances). "I saw he and his wife did a show a couple weeks ago at 54 Below. He doesn’t know my name, he just knows me from sight because I wear a red shirt… I wear a Jersey Boys red shirt [to every performance]. That's how they got to know me… I told him I was still going, and he said, 'You're still going to the show? I don't believe it!' He got a kick out of it." Most wouldn't believe that a person could see a Broadway show over 600 times, but Wordley keeps a record of how many times she's been and who she sees. In total, Wordley has spent 70 days (a little over two months) in the theatre, and on average, she has spent $40,500 on tickets (if you're calculating at an average price of $60 a ticket). This sum does not include the cost of a car service, which she takes in and out of the city to see the show.
But, does she ever get sick of it? "No," she says firmly. "I just love it. As I say, I've seen 12 guys. You're going to hear 12 different versions. You're never going to hear the same."
She adds, "I go by myself [the] majority of the time. I do go with friends on occasion — with girlfriends from around here where I live. We'll go to lunch at the diner, and then we go to the show… The girl who does my hair — one time I had an extra ticket, and she came because she does my hair so much so I look nice when I go to the show. She said, 'I'll go if you let me pay for the dinner.' I said, 'Okay. Fine! No problem.' I brought my brother last year. He was visiting from California, and he had seen the movie, and he wanted to see the play."
Wordley saw the film as well, but admits, quite honestly, that nothing beats seeing Jersey Boys live. "I was there the day [director] Clint Eastwood actually was in the theatre," she says. "He had just taken over the handling of the movie, and he was looking for people who had done either the road show or had done Broadway, and that day was — as John Lloyd Young later said — [Lloyd Young's] 'screen test.' He said he met him after the show… He got the part."
Over the past seven years, Wordley has been there through it all — good audiences, bad audiences and even the time a curtain came crashing down and almost took out actor Joseph Leo Bwarie, who was on as Valli.
Has she been to other jukebox musicals? "I saw Beautiful, and I enjoyed that. Jarrod was in it, so I went to see him," she says. "I go to other Broadway shows. People ask me that — they say, 'Do you go to a bunch of other shows? Do you go to any other shows?' and I say, 'Yeah, I go to other shows, but I just keep coming back to Jersey Boys.'"
Catch her this weekend. She'll be there in the red Jersey Boys t-shirt!