Sydney Review - Jersey Boys – The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons: hugely entertaining
Jersey Boys – The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
By Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Music by Bob Gaudio
Lyrics by Bob Crewe
Directed by Des Mcanuff
Produced by Dodger Theatricals, Rodney Rigby, TEG Dainty, Joseph J Grano, Pelican Group, Michael Watt, Tommy Mattola. In association with Latitude Link And Anita Waxman
Season: From Wednesday 29 August. Bookings: jerseyboys.com.au
How do you judge the success of a stage musical? Is it the endless number of catchy songs; the fabulous voices of the cast; the colour and sound of the production; the exciting storyline; the imaginative staging; the choreography; or is it the standing ovation from the audience?
Jersey Boys had all of this and more!
For me, success is when you find yourself humming the tunes the next morning on your way to work.
Jersey Boys is a cavalcade of hit after hit; sweet, enduring music that lives up to the ‘easy listening’ genre of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. It’s popular music that many of us grew up on and now their story is told in a living time-capsule called “Jersey Boys”.
The show starts with a rap-rendition in French of Oh, what a night. We then meet Tommy DeVito, the fast talking, street-wise catalyst of the group who gives a slick narration of the early days of the rock n roll world of the mid 1950’s. With a distinctive New Jersey background, we were able to understand the battles that “a few guys under a streetlamp singing somebody else’s latest hit” had to fight to get their songs noticed by the musical powerbrokers.
Tommy introduces us to his other band members Frankie Valli, Nick Massi and Bob Gaudio and we hear how they evolve using many different stage names such as Tommy and the Nicks, Romans, Four Lovers, until settling on ‘The Four Seasons’. In the background, Tommy keeps the band viable through petty crime and shonky deals. Some of their early songs are heard such as I Go Ape and Bob Gaudio’s Short Shorts.
Their big break finally comes in 1962 with Sherry. The story then develops from one of ‘rags to riches’ and we see the personal challenges each band member faces. As Tommy reminds us “None of us were saints. You sell a hundred million records, see how you handle it”.
All the great songs are featured as the story is told. Notable are Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like a Man, Rag Doll, Can’t Take My Eyes off You, Working My Way Back To You, Who Loves You, Bye Bye Baby and my personal favourite My Eyes Adored You. There is a funny and raunchy December 1963 (Oh, What a Night) as we relive the experience which inspired the song for Bob Gaudio.
Accolades must go to all the cast and creative team.
Bernard Angel plays Frankie Valli. He has a fabulous voice that covers all the octaval range that Frankie is famous for. Cameron MacDonald is outstanding as Tommy DeVito, and with a masterful ‘Jersey’ accent, espouses the cheeky personality of the bands lynchpin member.
Thomas McGuane is terrific as Bob Gaudio. He brings a calming and shrewd presence to the band whilst being its creative genius. The role of Nick Massi is perfect for Glaston Teft. His dry wit and sensitivity was a hit with the audience.
Cristina D’Agostino as Mary Delgado (Frankies first wife) brought humour and emotion to the role and sang beautifully in My Eyes Adored You.
Glenn Hill played Bob Crewe, the record producer. He brought just the right balance of humour and smart one-liners to the role.
Lots of entertainment received gratefully from Mia Dabkowski-Chandler, Luigi Lucente, Sage Douglas, Enrico Mammerella, Mackenzie Dunn, Rutene Spooner and Joshua Mulheran (as a young Joe Pesci) and others.
My one complaint: it’s not long enough: too many songs are left out. Perhaps there will be a Jersey Boys Part 2.
Directed by Des McAnuff, Jersey Boys is a hugely entertaining production with a fast pace, great music, rapid set and costume changes and a terrific story. On top of this, it’s performed in the beautiful Capitol Theatre, making the whole experience all the more enjoyable.