Oh What a Night

New Jersey Nights

Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton

 ****

New Jersey Nights is an interesting phenomena. The fifties, sixties and seventies spawned a slew of memorable popular music, the originators of which are now largely either dead, or in their dotage.

First, tribute bands came along to keep their memory alive, then came stage musicals. New Jersey Nights develops the lineage by capitalising on the success of another stage musical, The Jersey Boys, and also showcases the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons who were played by John Hawkins, Ricki Rojas, Damion Scarcella and Simon Schofield.

fThe three part harmony behind  Valli's soaring falsetto voice are convincing but the star of the show is offstage, songwriter Bob Gaudio , whose songwriting is celebrated in this show.

The credentials of the Four Seasons are impressive. An American band from New Jersey, they became internationally successful in the mid-1960s. Since 1970, they have also been known as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

In 1960, the group known as the Four Lovers evolved into the Four Seasons, with Frankie Valli as the lead singer, Bob Gaudio (formerly of the Royal Teens) on keyboards and tenor vocals, Tommy DeVito on lead guitar and baritone vocals, and Nick Massi on bass guitar and bass vocals.

They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, and joined the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. They are one of the best-selling musical groups of all time, having sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide.

A jukebox musical in concert form with a live band on stage, not only are all the hits dispatched, but also a sprinkling of other period songs are included. Female dancers and backing singers create a cabaret style feel to flesh out the restrictions of four men behind a microphone.

The classics, such as Big Girls Don’t Cry, Sherry, Walk Like A Man and My Eyes Adored You, were spot on, the covers , Be My Baby, Why Do Fools Fall In Love, My Girl and Da Doo Ron Ron bubbled and burned. The upbeat first half is slowed down for the opening of the second set, with a number of ballads, but picks up for the last quarter of the show, bringing the audience to their feet to sing and dance in the aisles. There is no shortage of material upon which to draw.


The show is a spectacular celebration of the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, and takes the audience on a nostalgic musical journey through the career of one of the biggest selling groups of all time. From the back street studio in New Jersey where it all began, this vibrant production includes all of The Four Seasons greatest hits.

While the music soars, the production values are more modest,

the set is minimalist , and the supporting choreography sometimes awkward , but the main numbers are performed with ebullience and gusto . The vocals and harmonies are uniformly strong, such that they are spotlighted in an acapella section including a comedy introduction to Blue Moon and the highlight of the evening, Silence is Golden.

You can catch up with the fun at the Grand, which had the audience on their feet and hollering for more, to 23-11-13.

Gary Longden

 

And from the other side of Memory Lane . . .

 ****

AS soon as the four very talented male singers in this show open up with Oh What A Night the audience get the feeling they will be going home thinking just that. What a night!

And so it proves; a non-stop journey through a host of hits in a tribute mainly to the 60s music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The numbers are instantly recognisable and thoroughly enjoyable, with a rousing finale, which has nearly everyone on their feet.

It's not a musical with a story, but more of a concert which features smartly-dressed Jon Hawkins, Ricki Rojas, Damion Scarcella and Simon Schofield, four young men with a pleasing range of voices who are able to turn on the falsetto whenever necessary.

They all perform solos impressively and excel as a group in songs like Sherry, Big Girls Don't Cry and Walk Like a Man. In the second half they deliver such favourites as Why Do Fools Fall in Love and Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.

Six dancers - three men, three women - add a generous helping of glamour to the show, and the four piece band, perched on a platform at the rear of the stage, perform superbly.

The sets are fairly basic, a small bar and a section of a recording studio, but the backdrop of multi-coloured twinkling lights creates a good atmosphere for the company's world tour.

To 23.11.13

Paul Marston

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