Reviewed by Amanda Gazzard
Oh what a night!!! The unforgettable sounds of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons was definitely brought back to life in this fantastic and awe inspiring award–winning production of Jersey Boys.
The story starts in New Jersey where the whirlwind story of four regular boys is told. From the opening number the stage is full of energy from the entire cast and the enthralling biography begins to be told.
Now I have to admit I am of a certain age that only recognised numerous songs from various film soundtracks and had heard of the Four Seasons but new nothing about them, so seeing the life stories of the Jersey Boys unfold with at times copious amounts of drama and conflict opened my eyes to how life used to be in the 1960’s for up and coming musicians and how different the music industry is today.
Writers Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman have captured the history behind one of the most successful groups from this era. Frankie Valli himself once said it’s ‘a story told with as much truth as possible’.
The harmonious journey clearly showed the extensive list of hits they produced entwined with the dramas that was unfolding behind the hits. You were navigated through events such as confrontations with gangsters, numerous bust ups within the band, marriage break downs, prison and debt.
The magic was recreated on stage by the four leading men. Bob Gaudio (Declan Egan), Tommy DeVito (Simon Bailey), Nick Massi (Lewis Griffiths) and Frankie Valli (Michel Watson), who have all previously appeared in productions of the Jersey Boys around the world. They all sang beautifully, and their harmonies were delightful to listen to.
The production was flawless, and each Season told their interpretation of the story. Tommy DeVito had a loveable arrogance about him but also had a dark side which ultimately caught up with him in the end. Nick Massi taught Frankie Valli how to perform and was super cool and clearly took pride in his appearance and hygiene routine added an extra comical factor. Frankie Valli made the trio and had a vocal range which finally set the group up to be different from everybody else. The final member of the band was Bob Gaudio who was introduced by none other than Joe Pesci (Stephen O’Riain) yes, the famous actor who finally gives the Four Seasons their distinct sound and stardom.
We were treated to hits such as Sherry, Walk Like A Man, Beggin and Working My Way Back to You. These hits propelled the Four Seasons to stardom, and as a result they sold over 175 million record sales.
The stage is split on 2 levels, allowing for simple stage transitions. The other cast members take on multiple roles throughout and it works very well.
The only quibble I do have is the language used. You are pre-warned on entering the theatre that there is swearing throughout the performance. I am in no way prudish, but I did feel at times it was slightly over the top.
The story of the Four Seasons was engaging from the very beginning and the music was uplifting which resulted in a sensational production. This production is fresh, energetic and exhilarating. Oh, what a night!!!
Tickets cost from £37.50 to £57.50 (booking fees may apply).
Jersey Boys is at the Cliffs Pavilion from 17-28 July 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit southendtheatres.org.uk or call the box office on 01702 351135.
Parking restrictions are now in place around the Cliffs Pavilion due to residents parking. The easiest place to park for free after 6pm is the sea front. It’s only a short walk up the steps to the theatre.
Cliffs Pavilion, Station Road, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS0 7RA | 01702 351135