I am a massive fan of theatre and West End shows, but if you were to ask me to write a theatre ticket wish-list, Jersey Boys probably wouldn’t have even made my top 10. This might have something to do with the fact that I am a 22 years old and, before last week, hadn’t the foggiest who Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons were. So as you can imagine, I thought that four men on a stage singing songs I’d never heard would make for pretty average viewing, right? Wrong! How very wrong I was…
Jersey Boys tells the gripping true story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons by following the band’s rise to fame and its various interchanging band members. It starts at the very beginning of their careers, meaning you don’t need to know a single thing about the band to enjoy the plot (if anything it made it more enjoyable).
Starting in Jersey, New York the audience meet the young troublemaker Tommy DeVito getting by in life with petty crime and stints in prison. With a love for making music, he forms the group The Variety Trio with his brother Nick DeVito and friend Nick Massi. The band goes through various members, sounds and identities until Tommy spots the voice of Frankie Castelluccio and recruits him into the band sharpish. As the most talented singer of the group by a clear mile, Frankie takes the lead and adopts the show name of Frankie Valli.
Frankie Valli was played by Ryan Malloy, who has become somewhat of a living legend in Theatre Land. Having executed the role of Frankie with unbelievably accurate vocals for a whopping 5 years, it’s evident he has perfected the vocals and become ensconced in the character of Frankie Valli. Despite being a Jersey Boys veteran, he still puts on a performance with just as much energy and passion as if it were his very first show. But honestly – how on earth does he sing that high?
Once the songs began to flow, I was surprised to find that I actually recognised the vast majority of them! Yes, tucked away in some remote part of my brain, I subconsciously knew the words to songs such as ‘Sherry’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Walk Like a Man’ and ‘Oh What A Night’. Who knew!? The songs I didn’t know the words to were just as catchy and found myself humming the tune on the short stroll back to my central London hotel.
As the band’s success grew, the songs got bigger and the jackets got shinier. What I loved about the production is how the band performed to the audience and really responded to the applaus. During their bandstand performances, retro cameras captured real time video and projected it onto 2 screens in black and white. Along with real clips of 1960’s fans, we were shown how their fans really would have reacted to them back in the day. I thought this was fascinating and a really clever way of taking the audience back in time.
Jersey Boys is a classic Jukebox musical which doesn’t rely on flashy gimmicks, illusions or sets to make the show. Instead, it showcases amazing talent, hugely catchy songs and a great story, defining a really fantastic piece of theatre. And trust me, you don’t need to be over 45 to enjoy this one. So whether you go with your kid sister, your other half or your Nan, you’ll be dancing on your feet by the end of the show, just like everyone else in the theatre!
Have you seen Jersey Boys? Comment in the box below and let us know what you thought!