Oh What a Night!!!
And, indeed, it was.
Written by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe, the award-winning Jersey Boys tells the true story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, from their beginnings as four guys from New Jersey, to their meteoric rise to fame with their distinctive style and eventual induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While this may appear as a classic musical rags-to-riches story, we get to see the real trials and tribulations of behind one of the biggest bands in history – from stints in prison and run-ins with the mob, to debt, divorce and the loss of Valli’s daughter.
Billed as a jukebox musical, Jersey Boys is slightly different in that instead of using the songs as jumping-off points for the plot, it is part play / part concert that takes us through the Four Seasons repertoire of hits in the order that they were released including Big Girls Don’t Cry, Beggin’, Sherry, Walk Like A Man, December, 1963 (Oh What a Night), Bye Bye Baby, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Working My Way Back to You, Fallen Angel, Rag Doll and Who Loves You. Some of these songs are indeed surprising – there were definitely a few that many audience members didn’t attribute to the band.
The Four Seasons are played by four incredibly talented performers, all of which hold their own with superb vocals and give more in-depth insight into their characters by speaking directly to the audience during various points in the show. There’s the Jersey stereotype in Tommy DeVito (Dalton Wood), down-to-earth and often overlooked bass Nick Massi (Lewis Griffiths), likeable and clean-cut songwriter Bob Gaudio (Blair Gibson) and, of course, Frankie Valli. It was a slightly unusual situation in that Valli was played by Michael Pickering in the first half, and then due to his indisposition was replaced in the second half by Luke Suri, and while there were different nuances in how they played the role, they were both outstanding as the lead vocalist.
They were supported by an incredible cast of young performers who, as I discussed during my chat with cast member Norton James recently, take on multiple roles during the show, and do so with seeming ease. It’s a fun and incredibly slick production that moves very quickly, with lightning-faced scene changes and clever use of the stage and a video screen above that allows us to see the band from multiple performance angles and adds further depth to the songs with cartoon images.
I have seen the show before, but this performance felt… different. Perhaps it was the fact that it was so effortlessly executed, the high quality of the performers themselves, or the fact that they were clearly having a fantastic time on stage, but it was surprisingly emotionally charged and it was clear that the audience connected with each of the characters. I loved it from start to finish – definitely one of my favourite shows that I’ve seen this year.
Jersey Boys is a wonderful show which had the entire audience singing and dancing with a well-deserved standing ovation at the end. It will be on stage at the Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 1st January. Get your tickets here – it’s absolutely not one to be missed!