There are two huge aspects of what makes a musical memorable. First, a compelling, interesting story-line. Second, songs that can lift you from your seat and forget about the world around you. So, did Jersey Boys make the cut? You bet it did.
Jersey Boys tells the story of an amazingly successful US pop group in the sixties and seventies, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
The story is mainly told by New Jersey boy, Tommy DeVito (Simon Bailey), criminal, charmingly arrogant, and founder of the original band. He recruits 16-year-old Frankie Castelluccio (Michael Watson) after hearing his unique voice. Frankie then changes his name to Frankie Valli ‘with an i’ to emphasise his Italian-American roots.
Their career was filled with hit by hit, taking the world over by storm, from their main songwriter, the supreme Bob Gaudio (James Winter), the fourth member. The strong classics such as ‘Sherry’, ‘Walk Like A Man’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)’ and ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ are a huge hit with the audience. The musical numbers and story are a perfect fit, as you can see the progression as a band getting stronger.
The musical is a huge gripping biography with brushing with the law, prison sentences, huge debt issues, life on the road, and even mob connections (Yes, I was shocked too). A fascinating story, from the very early years, seeing them rise within the streets of New Jersey, to the final scene, at the Rock ‘n’Roll Hall of Fame.
I was initially skeptical on if Valli’s voice could be replicated, however, Michael Watson is superb as Frankie. It’s a huge task to adapt the new Jersey accent, and Valli’s falsetto, but he does it effortlessly.
‘My Eyes Adored You’ captivated the audience, even bringing a tear to some eyes, including my own. This is exactly what you want from a musical of sheer brilliance, a tear at the heartfelt moments, happiness at the huge musical numbers, and laughter at the right times, a perfect combination.
Jersey Boys was complete with a full standing ovation filled with singing and dancing from the crowd. What more could you want? ‘Oh, what a night!’ it was.
Jersey Boys is at the Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent from 6-17 February 2018. See website for details.