Jersey Boys theatre review: Since 2005 Jersey Boys has been packing in theatre audiences the world over. It has played everywhere from New York (where it can still be seen off-Broadway), to Toronto, Las Vegas, Japan, Dubai and even China. It closed in London’s West End at the tail end of last year, but its touring production, now on its second journey around the UK and Ireland, still gives fans in this country to catch the magic of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
The musical actually opens in Paris in 2000, a French troupe seen performing ‘Ces soirées-là’, the local version of the hit ‘Oh, What A Night’. It is forty years since the coming together of the group, but it’s not too long until we’re transported to 1960 for a frenetic, introduction to four boys from working-class New Jersey, who came together to form the legendary Four Seasons. Of course, they weren’t always the Four Seasons. Prior to them settling on that particular name, Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Massi were the Four Lovers and even The Wonder Who for a brief period, before they literally saw a sign and became the act that we know and continue to love to this very day.
The musical charts their rise to fame, their troubles along the way, and their eventual departure with Frankie going on to form an act on his own – what would become Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – a continued partnership with songwriter Gaudio (who also provides the music for this wonderful show).
I walked out of the press showing of the latest touring show to hear the person next to me say to her partner – “I’d still come again” – alluding to the fact that this probably wasn’t her first visit to see Jersey Boys. In fact, I would guess that half of the audience were on their second, third, fiftieth trip to see the show, and I can understand why.
Despite its energetic start, which sometimes I found a little difficult to keep up with, as Simon Bailey’s brilliant performance as Tommy DeVito narrate and performs in various scenes showing how everyone came together to form the band, it doesn’t take too long for everyone to find their flow and whisk you away to a time long ago. The nostalgia factor and, of course, those wonderful songs, are just a couple of the reasons behind the show’s enduring success over the years, but it is this outstanding, very warming cast which, I assume is just one of the many all over the world that have given everything to bring this story to life, that are so endearing and virtually flawless, that makes Jersey Boys so wonderful.
As well as the brilliant Bailey, who has a difficult task in guiding us on at least the first half of the show, we have a dynamic, jaw-droppingly note-perfect Dayle Hodge as Frankie Valli. This guy’s range rivals that of the the man he embodies himself. His sensational turn as Valli culminates in a show-stopping rendition of Can’t Take My Eyes Off You part way through the second half – a moment which had the audience, rightfully, on their feet. To then follow that up with heart-breaking ‘Fallen Angel’ is a work of genius from all involved, from book script to flawless execution.
For those asking, Jersey Boys still stands up all these years on – apparently if you’ve been before, but also if you’re a newbie – like this reviewer. With this cast, with this musical accompaniment, this arrangement, this tour is truly one of the most memorable nights you’ll have out at the theatre all year. I would Truly one of the best jukebox musicals still out there. Oh What A Night, indeed.
Jersey Boys theatre review by Paul Heath, October 2018.
Jersey Boys plays at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking until 27th October 2018 before continuing on its current UK and Ireland tour.