The music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is before my time, but as they became one of the most successful acts in music history, chances are like me, you will know the hits.
If you’re a fan of the era or the group then the musical Jersey Boys is definitely one for you, if you’re like me then you might find the start of the show a little slow going until we get to the 1962 hit ‘Sherry’ and then show picks up pace for the remainder. It’s not really something they can do a lot about. Chronologically presented in a documentary style format, the show dramatises the formation, success and eventual break-up of the group of four ordinary boys who joined together to form an extraordinary group. .
Cramming two decades of songs into the production, you sometimes feel like the cast are zipping through the dialogue to get it done and over with, making it hard to comprehend understand the dialogue at times, that said, the story, with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe, and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice is not hard to follow. The title referring to the fact that the members of The Four Seasons are from New Jersey and are male.
Created out of real life, the story is told with as much truth as possible. Although the songs such as “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Sherry”, “December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)”, “My Eyes Adored You”, “Stay”, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, “Working My Way Back to You” and “Rag Doll”, among others provided the soundtrack to an entire generation, their offstage lives had never really been told publicly before. There were no biographies written that would have told about their mob connections for example or prison or their debt. Deep stuff for a juke box musical.
Individually, Bob Gaudio, Tommy Devito, Nick Massi and Frankie Valli were all flawed but together they created musical magic and close harmonies which were beautifully recreated on stage. Playing Valli is no easy role. The actor who originally played him in the show’s first workshop quickly suffered vocal damage. Singing like Valli demands a special range, it is a unique voice that needs to be studied in order to get the diversified things he can do with his voice right. His falsetto is as strong as his full voice. Thankfully Dayle Hodge who plays him has it nailed. Not surprisingly as he has played the role on numerous occasions, including the West End. One minor niggle I have is that the iconic voice at times seemed drowned out by the backing, but nothing a tweak on the old volume knob can’t sort out, after all, it’s a talent we want to hear.
There is fabulous support from the rest of the cast and by the different band members who each gives his own perspective on its history and music. All of the leading men have in fact appeared in previous productions of the show and the chemistry between them is flawless. The visual resemblance between some of the cast and the actual person they’re playing is also uncanny, one of those being Simon Bailey who brilliantly plays founder member and notorious gambler, Tommy DeVito, full of charming arrogance. Equally good is Lewis Griffiths, as bassist Nick Massi – his straight-faced one-liners providing much of the humour.
Once hooked by the story it is absolutely captivating. The two-level split stage works well to allow the movement by a talented company, many of whom take on multiple roles. Much of the music is uplifting, though their are poignant moments such as ‘Fallen Angel’ which Valli sings at the loss of his daughter. Featuring no less than 33 musical numbers the resulting production is sensational.
You’re guaranteed to leave the theatre humming ‘Oh, what a night’ and of course as a reviewer the temptation is to end the review with that, instead I’m going to say ‘Who Loves You?’ – judging by the standing ovation, I’d say everybody that goes along to see this award-winning show.
Love T xx
JERSEY BOYS is running until Sat 19 May
Week 1 Wed-Sat evenings 7.30pm, Thu matinee 2pm, Sat matinee 2.30pm
Week 2 Mon-Sat evenings 7.30pm, Wed & Thu matinee 2pm, Sat matinee 2.30pm
£20 – £54.50 plus discounts for Royal Members*, Under 16s, Go Card** holders, Groups
Box Office: 0115 989 5555
*Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall Nottingham Royal Membership scheme offering ticket discounts, exclusive pre-sales, meet the cast nights and more www.trch.co.uk/membership
**Go Card free scheme for full time students and under 26s offering ticket discounts for Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall Nottingham events www.trch.co.uk/gocard