Jersey Boys is the type of show that immediately grips you in a chokehold and doesn’t release you until hours after when you realise you’ve been humming the same few songs under your breath. From the opening dance number, you’re swept into a captivating storyline of four young musicians making their debut in fame. The characters are so rounded and distinct, it’s difficult not to care about them. It truly feels like you’re living through their ups and downs alongside them.
The storyline follows the career of The Four Seasons, an adored band from the 60s and beyond, as they navigate their way through multiple failures before reaching success. Each member has their own quirks that makes them likeably unique, whether it be Tommy’s gangster style, Gaudio’s innocence or Nick’s constant attempt to start his own band. Frankie Valli’s voice alone deserves an entire encore. Ryan Heenan embodies the character of Frankie, with every song he refuses to falter, belting high notes most of us can only dream of.
The four takes on an incredibly difficult challenge to recreate a band the older audience have loved their whole lifetime, and they not only achieve that, but captivate the younger audience too. Blair Gibson’s performance of December 1963 rivals even the original recordings with a voice that hits every note flawlessly. Oh, what a night, indeed. With his loveable character and general demeanour he is able to add an entirely new perspective to the song. If this was the only good part of the show, it would’ve saved the entire production.
It’s rare to see an entire cast full of triple-threats, but this show does it so effortlessly, it makes it looks easy. It’s not exaggeration to say that every single cast member is completely West End worthy; able to not only act their hearts out at any given moment, but also belt ballads, leap into complicated choreography or make a set in seconds. My favourite performance by far is by Emma Crossley as Mary Delgado. She introduces herself as a carefree, joyous, young lady without a single responsibility in the world, so when she finally snaps at Frankie it comes as an incredible shock. She embodies her rage at a depth that is rarely seen throughout the rest of the show, which makes her monologue so powerful as she finally reveals how she’s been feeling. Her struggle to cope as an almost single mother plucks at the heartstrings of every person in the room. For a second we are taken away from the stage lights and glitter to realise the negative effects fame has had on Frankie’s family, that has caused him to lose a girl who he had fawned over relentlessly. This is an extremely prominent moment that tells the audience, along with Frankie, that it isn’t all glamorous. Crossley perfects the art of frustration, anger and acceptance all at once.
The set is unlike anything I’d ever seen. Scenic designer Clara Zieglerova makes it so a wide range of locations appear at a second notice, with clear nods to the eras represented; a look so well done that to call it simply ‘aesthetically pleasing’ would be an insult to the genius of it. The costume design, by Jess Goldstein, is equally stunning. Every sparkly suit, gorgeous nightgown and bold dress looks like it is straight off a fashion runway.
You know a show is beyond brilliant when everyone in the audience stands to dance and cheer on the last song. After the emotional rollercoaster ends, I realise critique is almost impossible. My plus one has never been to a theatre show before, so it is a perfect one to start off the obsession. Not a single song falls flat, not a single character corpses, not for a single split second am I not invested in what will happen next. The attention to detail, the songs, the accents, the hair! Everything about this show screams five stars, and my only concern is no other show I see may live up to it.
Reviewer. Grace Etherington
One thought on “Review: Jersey Boys (touring) Royal and Derngate”
Saw this last night. It was amazing