Following the successful run of War Horse at the Regent Theatre, Hanley last night marked the opening night of Jersey Boys. Hailed by many as the the ultimate jukebox musical, Jersey Boys is a documentary style show which tells the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The show, which opened on Broadway in 2005 and later on London’s West End, has won four 2006 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and the 2009 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical and is now embarking on a year long UK Tour which boasts the same creative team as those who worked behind the scenes on the West End and Broadway – surely suggesting that this is a show not to be missed.
Cleverly broken down into the four seasons; spring, summer, autumn and winter, each season is narrated by a member of the band and gives opportunity for each to give their own perspective on the bands success and where it all started to fall apart (think of it as The Big Reunion, about a band that changed rock n roll music forever). Was it Frankie Valli’s and Bob Gaudio’s 50/50 handshake deal which caused a rift within the band or did Tommy DeVito’s money squandering and accumulation of loan shark debt mark the demise of the four piece as they were known to a generation?
By the end of “Fall”, Massi and DeVito have left the group with Frankie and Bob taking on the massive debt as their own. In “Winter” Gaudio bows out of the spotlight after never feeling comfortable with such a public role leaving lead vocalist Frankie Valli to front a new line up of the Four Seasons, (Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons). With his career on the up and following the (almost never) release of musical masterpiece “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” along with “Working My Way Back To You”, Frankie’s personal life plummets. Following a divorce from his first wife and the demise of his relationship with girlfriend Lorraine, his daughter Francine unfortunately dies from a overdose.
The finale of the show is marked by the induction of the Four Seasons into the infamous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where the original four are reunited on stage and summarise their life within the band and tell of their life post Four Seasons.
What is apparent during Jersey Boys is that the music completely takes the lead.
The cleverly arranged songs accompany the story perfectly and successfully showcases a back catalogue of hits which lay the foundations to the music we all know and love today. Like the Buddy Holly Story earlier in the year, I went to along to Jersey Boys not expecting to know a majority of the songs but instead found myself knowing more than I bargained for. “I know this one” “oh do they sing this song?” I was moved by the likes of “My Eyes Adored You” and “Fallen Angel“, found myself watching an auditorium shoulder dancing to “Oh What A Night” and was thrown back to Dirty Dancing with the iconic “Big Girls Don’t Cry”.
This was the first show I’d attended where mid show (following the performance of “Walk Like A Man”) the audience erupted into rapturous whoops and applause, and rightly so. This show hosts some real musical talent Tim Driesen (Frankie Valli), Sam Ferriday (Bob Gaudio), Lewis Griffiths (Nick Massi) and Stephen Webb (Tommy DeVito) who make the Four Seasons are outstanding and their tight vocals, slick harmonies and flawless delivery of the songs of a generation really make this show what it is.
It’s imperative that todays generation learn the roots of the great music of yesteryears and that is what jukebox musicals such as Jersey Boys do so well.
Jersey Boys will conclude it’s two week run at the Regent Theatre on 8th November and is the perfect opportunity to catch an award winning show outside of the West End. Tickets are available online or from the box office.