I cant believe how long it has taken me to finally get around to seeing today’s show, but finally after hundreds of rave reports and a cracking ticket bargain, I got to see Jersey Boys.
I knew, of course, of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – I couldn’t be such a huge fan of the ’60’s and not have heard some of their music. However, what I didn’t know was about them.
Jersey Boys tells the story of the band, from its conception, through the trials, tribulations and sometimes tragedies of the group as a whole and as individuals.
Started byTommy DeVito (Jon Boydon), a slightly temperamental gambler with big ideas, who’s original band members – himself included – spent a large proportion of time in jail, he discovers a young lad with a hugely distinctive voice.
This young man is Frankie (Ben Jennings). Because he is young he is easily influenced and he is under Tommy’s thumb. Decisions are all made by Tommy, though it is debatable that Frankie would ever have been so successful had Tommy not helped to kick start everything.
As time passes and agents begin to get involved, Tommy struggles to maintain control and becomes resentful. The other group members – Bob Gaudio (Edd Post) and Nick Massi (David McGranaghan) are sick of being constantly renamed and never getting anywhere.
Tensions flare up and the discovery that DeVito is thousands of pounds (well, ok, dollars) in debt, along with the agreement between Gaudio and Valli, is the final straw.
The show covers the story, in detail and with narration – mostly from DeVito but from each member of the group – about their rise to fame, their relationships both inside and outside the band and beyond, right up until now.
The soundtrack is a surprising one due to a number of songs being covered, and ultimately better known by alternative artists, an example of this being ‘Cant Take My Eyes Off You’ perhaps most familiar by Andy Williams. Other hits include ‘Walk Like A Man’, ‘Ragdoll’ and ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ but these are by no means the only ones.
The staging is done over two levels and the clever use of lighting enhances the speaker or situation at any one time. I also enjoyed the way that TV or concert appearances were performed using techniques such as ‘live-cams’ and using upstage for downstage.
Ryan Molloy is world renowned for his performance as Frankie and he has a huge following. His understudy, Jon Lee, is also an experienced performer after a pop career with S Club 7 and a stint as Marius in Les Miserables. However, our Frankie for the evening was Ben Jennings. I have to say I thought he was incredible and I am not in the least disappointed that he was on. Jennings is definitely going to be a name to watch out for, his vocals, even at such a high range, were flawless and he was great to watch.
I thoroughly enjoyed Boydon’s DeVito, though every one of the ‘Seasons’ was convincing. I think my favourite scene had to be Gaudio’s ‘initiation’ into becoming a man, accompanied with the lovely ladies of the cast. A mention must also go to Tommie Lee Jenkins who played a number of small roles but his moves were slick and he was captivating.
This is a show that would appeal to all ages. It is not mind-blowing and there are few special effects or fancy pieces of set. But what you get is a good solid show, with toe-tapping tunes, a well thought out and easy to follow story and one which will put a smile on your face. Definitely worth seeing, though be warned, you will probably want to make a return visit.
If you have not seen the show, or indeed if you have and are interested, I recently interviewed Jon Boydon and he gives a lovely description of his character among lots of other things. You can find it here: http:// wp.me/p2RIFK-5I