Jersey Boys
 

 

Four Seasons

Declan Egan as Bob Gaudio, Michael Watson as Frankie Valli, Simon Bailey as Tommy Devito and Lewis Griffiths as Nick Massi - The Four Seasons. Pictures: Brinkhoff Mögenburg

Jersey Boys

The New Alexandra Theatre

****

It’s been around for almost a decade now, but the Frankie Valli jukebox musical, Jersey Boys, continues to pack them in.

What is apparent here is the wealth of great music that perhaps became more famous by other artists or you have just forgotten. Perhaps that’s not a problem for the diehard Valli fans.

If there’s one disappointment though it’s that only a few of The Four Seasons hits are sung to completion during the show. That’s because it’s a fast paced story of the wider life issues facing the band members. It’s all delivered in a self professed biopic style and often we get to hear a song’s verse and chorus before it’s interrupted with some spoken revelation about what was happening for the individual band member at that time.

And there was a lot going on it seems, connections with organised crime, robbery, prison, affairs and family tragedy and that was just in the first ten minutes. With all this drama juxtaposed against the hits, it sometimes all feels at odds to the emotional content of the songs.

There’s hardly time to breathe with the fast pace and production of the story the show has an almost military like style. Each segues or monologue is carefully choreographed with props automatically delivered on to stage or cast members rearranging the set like clockwork.  

It’s still the fantastic music though that pulls it all together and having sold 175 million records encompassing a myriad of popular styles, you get to see and hear just how accomplished they were .It was the falsetto range of Valli that made his voice so distinctive and Michel Watson in the role captured it perfectly.

This was especially so in the ballads My Eyes Adore You and the powerful Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. Simon Bailey played Tommy Devito, the band's former originator, part gangster and part guitarist, who eventually led the group to near financial ruin.

When early on Bob Gaudio, played by Declan Egan, the bands principle songwriter joined, The Four Seasons finally came into being.  The big break came with the record Sherry which sold a million copies and was produced by Bob Crewe played here by Joel Eleferink. The Jersey Boys recognises Crewe's pivotal role as a producer but seem to omit the fact that he co-wrote with Gaudio, several of the band's big hits.

Lewis Griffith played the band's bass player and vocalist Nick Massi. Massi eventually leaves the band hankering for a missed home life and amusingly citing his need for bathroom cleanliness as a principle reason for his on the road misery. This leaves Gaudio and Valli free to redesign the band and negotiate their own deals with the record labels and radio stations.

Musically the whole show is uplifting even though hits like Working My Way back to You are arranged as the Spinners 70s disco version rather than the original from back in 1965.

The story finally works its way up to a conclusion and the uplifting Who Loves You and by then the audience was on its feet. However like the songs in the show the encore feels woefully short of the energy the production has created so it’s a little disappointing for it all to end without a strong medley recap. The audience left wanting more but still Oh what a night! To 06-01-18

Jeff Grant

21-12-17 

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