New Jersey Nights
Grand Opera House, York
2-5 May 2013
Reviewed by Erica Bourn
'Oh, What a Night' – not only the opening number of 'New Jersey Nights' at the Grand Opera House on Thursday, but also an apt description of the evening as a whole, that saw the York audience dancing and singing along, like a group of teenage girls at a One Direction gig, (when in fact a lot of the audience were in fact old enough to be getting their bus pass).
Think it is fair to say that a lot of the numbers were soundtrack to my mum and my own teenage years; mum's the first time round, and for me from the numerous iconic films which see Frankie Valli's and the Four Seasons music feature on the soundtrack, (either from them writing or performing them), including Dirty Dancing, Grease, My Girl, Ghost and Back to the Future.
Singers Jon Hawkins, Duncan Heather, Ricky Rojas and Damion Scarcella kicked off the two-hour long trip through the 1960s and 70s in Ruby's Bar, following with renditions of their huge and impressive back catalogue including Dawn, Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Beggin, Walk Like a Man and Bye Bye Baby. The foursome explained the history to many of the songs and cracked a few jokes along the way. Unlike the 'Jersey Boys', no-one played the individual characters, rather they took turns on lead vocals of songs and ultimately you could argue that it was more like a tribute performance.
Some truly heart touching moments, with the performance of 'Fallen Angel' in memory of Frankie's two daughters, who tragically passed away within 6 months of each other. A, (well scripted, I suspect), 'mistake' during the intro to 'Blue Moon' when Duncan Heather could not find a 'D', provided laughs too.
The dancing and singing female trio, Robyn Ford, Charlotte Greaves and Samantha Heather, also paid homage to The Crystals and The Ronettes in glittery doo whoop style with Da Do Ron Ron and Be My Baby. The live four piece 'swing' band were fabulous, as were the 6 dancers who helped capture the mood of the era.
The set was somewhat basic, almost bordering on tacky, for a production of this level, but with the stand out vocal performances this did not over shadow the overall appeal of the show.
The overall production may not be as glitzy as the 'Jersey Boys', but the feel good factor was most definitely there, and left the audience asking to 'Stay Just a Little Bit Longer'. As good as a DeLorean for many in transporting them back to the 1960's and their teenage years, a thoroughly enjoyable night and a well deserved 4.5/5.
New Jersey Night is currently on tour, for more details visit http://newjerseynights.co.uk/tourdates.html