‘O What a Night’, indeed. It would be impossible to leave the theatre without a smile on your face and that catchy tune running through your head after having the pleasure of experiencing this touring production of Jersey Boys. It is absolutely captivating from start to finish. The stage is never empty and there’s barely a moment of silence throughout the entire production, which is absolutely jam-packed full of the best of The Four Seasons’ impressive repertoire.
The Tony, Grammy and Olivier award-winning musical, Jersey Boys,is a jukebox musical which takes us through the backstory of the formation, success, and break-up of The Four Seasons. With music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe, and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, it is almost autobiographical in its delivery, with each member narrating a different ‘season’ in the band’s story. The original production opened on Broadway in November 2005, and it premiered in the West End in 2008 before embarking on two record-breaking UK and Ireland Tours from 2014 to 2016 and from 2017 to 2019.
Dalton Wood oozes charisma as the roguish Tommy DeVito, keeping the audience in the palm of his hand as he narrates ‘Spring’ and the early days of the band, while trying to stay on the right side of the law. His effortless voice matches perfectly the confidence of his character and his dancing is on point.
We then move into ‘Summer’ and the silky voice of Blair Gibson as Bob Gaudio, the genius behind the music. Gibson’s energy is infectious and his bright, upbeat performance juxtaposes brilliantly Wood’s suave and troublesome DeVito. He is a joy to watch, and incorporates some lovely moments of humour to his performance.
Tom O’Brien stepped in as bassist Nick Massi for this evening’s production, and is a testament to the incredible talent and versatility of swing actors. His comic timing is spot on as he takes us through ‘Autumn’ and the cracks that began to form within the band, as are his smooth bass vocals which underpin the harmonies.
You’d be forgiven for thinking you are listening to original recordings of the band when first hearing Michael Pickering hitting the heights of the falsetto that Frankie Valli was so famous for. Pickering’s stamina is staggering, as he moves from number to number, never dropping a note, nor a jot of energy from the moment he walks onto the stage to taking his final bow at the end. His rendition of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ is exceptional, and one of the absolute highlights of the show for me. He perfectly captures the development from the energetic youth of Valli as a 14 year-old teenager taken under the wing of Tommy DeVito, to the confident leader in ‘Winter’ who takes care of business.
The four leads are rarely offstage, and are supported brilliantly by the rest of the supremely talented and versatile cast, each of whom takes on several roles in the performance. Emma Crossley has real presence as Mary Delgado, Valli’s wife, and the stage lights up every time Damien Winchester comes on for one of his many cameo roles; two particularly noteworthy performances for me.
The transitions from nightclub to police cell to arena are a credit to impressive scenic design and lighting, and Michael Clark’s Pop Art inspired projections alongside the beautiful costumes (and boy, are there a lot of them!) help to transport us straight into the vibrancy of the 1960s. Scene changes are slick, and are incorporated masterfully into the movement, along with numerous quick costume changes as the four leads move from song to song with ease.
This show features everything The Four Seasons were best known for; beautifully tight harmonies and slick, snappy dancing. The cast are expertly choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, capturing the style of the 1960s in his movement, and the vocal arrangements by Ron Melrose underscore nearly the entire performance. Des McAnuff’s direction makes perfect use of this to make even more poignant those few moments of silence.
Jersey Boys is a prime example of a jukebox musical done right; a compelling storyline complimented by all the best-known hits (no fewer than 32 of them, including ‘Sherry’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ and ‘Walk Like a Man’. This energetic production is well-worthy of its recognition, and I dare you not to get up and dance at the end!