Reviewed by J Wright
This up-beat musical is the rags-to-riches tale of The Four Seasons, the real life Jersey Boys and how they rose to meteoric fame in the 1960’s, leaving a legacy of music which lingers today.
There’s a narrative thread which connects all the important moments in the lives of Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi. From the beginning: “There are three options in Jersey; the army, the mob or to become a star”.
Each tell us their story, their account, their truth. Depicting tales of the mob and the clear involvement of the band with The Mafia, financial crimes, theft, gambling, repetitive debt and ‘cons’ peppered amongst the friendships and struggles and of course, relationships.
Whilst the promotion of the band might have projected clean cut good guys there’s an awful lot in their collective histories to the contrary.
I like that the roll call of hits and most audience members are sure to remember many, even from other media, especially ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’, ‘Oh What a Night’, ‘Walk Like A Man’ and ‘Bye Bye Baby’. I can hear them as I write the titles; instantly recognisable music from right back to 1962 and so many of them well known even 60 years later. The Four Seasons were around a little earlier than 1962, as you’ll learn through the story, with their first release failing to chart, success came later.
There’s some cracking one liners rapidly delivered and quickly buried in the fast movement of the script written by film writer Marshall Brickman and theatrical writer Rick Elice. The two interviewed the surviving members of The Four Seasons to get to the truth of their own story, making it into the award winning theatre hit that you can see for yourself.
There’s some salty language best suited for adults and in one scene a torrent of words so consistent it is funny. Not really one for younger children in that respect.
The vocal range of the cast is impressive with Michael Pickering in the role of Frankie Valli hitting all those high falsetto notes. Blair Gibson as Bob Gaudio with a warm glow of a voice. Dalton Wood as Tommy DeVito bringing all his slick persona along in the performance. My favourite is Lewis Griffiths as bass singer and bass guitarist Nick Massi. He has played this role for all the UK and Ireland tours and brings a tidy and well groomed character to life with a little additional amusement via his deep bass voice which seems to tickle somewhere beneath the feet it is so low.
The dance moves are authentically The Four Seasons, complete with finger snapping tightly executed turns and swishes, convincingly setting the piece right back into the sixties. The four of them do a great job emulating the vocal capacity and sound of The Four Seasons with gusto.
I like the set too, any theatre set need to be adaptable for a progressive tale taking place in so many locations and I like the visual aspect as the performances are shown on a screen simultaneously from another angle as if being recorded live on TV and in the moment. We can see the TV viewers experience as well as that back stage which is pretty clever overall and the video scenes are interspersed with audience shots from the original performances of The Four Seasons.
This is an award-winning show sixty five times over and it’s easy to see why with high energy and a darker-than-anticipated storyline. The audience quickly get into the atmosphere of the show and you can too; Jersey Boys is now at the beautiful Grand Theatre, Leeds with ticket available priced £36 – £61 and runs until 6th August. You’ll find lots of parking quite locally and just a minute or so walk from the theatre.
For more information or to book tickets please visit https://leedsheritagetheatres.com/whats-on/jersey-boys/ or phone the Box Office on 0113 243 0808.