Another musical that has been on my wish list for a long time is Jersey Boys. There is something about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons music that I just adore, their sound is so recognisable and relevant to this day, almost half a century on. I was kindly invited to watch the Jersey Boys UK tour at the Mayflower, for the press evening with the Southampton Bloggers, to review the show and ‘oh what a night’… sorry I couldn’t resist!
“What happens when you ask four guys for their story, you get four different versions”
Jersey Boys is a jukebox musical in a documentary style. The show is cleverly crafted into the four seasons, and throughout each season, each of the Seasons take over narrating, and sharing their side of the story and how they remember their life and career in the famous quartet. The audience are taken on a journey from the start of their career, as they try to discover who they are, find their sound, stick to a name and get noticed, to their first big hit ‘Sherry’, through the ups and downs. You see the band fall apart and then reunite for their induction into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. The show is accompanied by all of their well-known hits – there are more than I thought – along with some medleys of just pure musical bliss.
I loved the composition, and how it really was their stories being told rather than a tribute act to the Four Seasons. The use of stage and lighting to portray the audience back stage at their concerts and behind the camera on their TV filming is really clever.
Overall this show had me smiling throughout, tapping my feet and just thoroughly enjoying the music. It took a bit of time for it to warm up, but I believe that is down to the style of musical, and the background and story they are trying to tell, not just the hits that we all know and love. And actually without the build-up in the beginning it would be lacking in story. As soon as they come out with ‘Sherry’, the whole audience just lit up, literally too, the stage lighting shone across the audience, and it felt like we were there, back in 1963!
All four of the main cast were fantastic, they looked and sounded just like their characters, but Michael Watson, playing Frankie Valli, had some big shoes to fill and he did just that. I think you can tell when someone has done a good job of playing a big talent like that, when the fans, who go to see these shows are fully immersed, you would think they were actually at a Frankie Valley concert. The four men brought so much talent, humour and warmth to the stage and really did bring the Four Seasons story to life again, almost half a century on.
What was really heart-warming about this show was the reactions in the audience as the stage lighting would swoon over every now and then, seeing the familiarity of these songs bringing back floods of memories to the generations that previously loved this music, a couple in front of me having a cuddle as Watson sang “can’t take my eyes off of you” and the ladies down in the front row of the stalls shaking their hips to “big girls don’t cry” was just magic and you could really feel that buzz in the audience.
I can now see why Jersey Boys, is such an internationally acclaimed show, and has been for over 10 years, winning over 57 awards world wide, including the Olivier Award for Best New Musical, and 4 tony awards. Jersey Boys is a wonderful, timeless musical that is keeping the life and soul of this classic Rock N Roll quartet living on and I could not recommend it more! It is playing at the Mayflower until 30th of March and there are still tickets left – don’t miss it!