By Pauline Smith
The Jersey Boys
Book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice
Music by Bob Gaudio
Lyrics by Bob Crewe
Directed by Thomas Armstrong-Robley
Redcliffe Musical Theatre
The Redcliffe Entertainment Centre
102 Anzac Avenue, Redcliffe
Season has ended.
The Jersey Boys was an excellent show and a trip down memory lane (for those of us older audience members). The music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons was sensational with their first three singles hitting number one, selling an estimated 100-175 million records worldwide. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
This show is practically non-stop music, with the songs helping to tell the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. This is interspersed with dialogue to support the story, with the four members of the band narrating different parts to tell the story from their point of view.
It starts with Tommy DeVito (Thomas Armstrong-Robley) meeting a teenage Frankie Valli (Alexander Thanasoulis) who gives him his first chance to sing publicly. DeVito recognises the value of the unique voice that is Frankie Valli and recruits him straight away to be part of the ‘band’.
This also involved Frankie taking part in a jewellery heist, for which DeVito goes to prison, and Frankie gets a warning. Nick Massi (Jeremy Clark) is the third member of the band and a long-term friend of DeVito’s. Bob Gaudio (Matthew Leigh) is the last member to join the band, when they were the Four Lovers, and he produces the songs which rockets them to stardom.
These four singers had a fantastic harmony and chemistry on stage. Armstrong-Robley (who is also the director) has a strong musical background with this band, having sung the Frankie Valli part overseas, and touring with his own Live at Frankie’s cabaret show to more than 25 countries.
Clark and Leigh were wonderful in their roles, as was Thanasoulis, who was a great Frankie Valli. Frankie Valli’s voice is very difficult to replicate due to his vocal range and high octaves (Walk Like a Man) being an example. The only thing that let the music down slightly was Thanasoulis not being able to hit some of the high notes and his voice cracking. However, he did not let that stop him belting out the numbers and absolutely nailing some of the lower range songs.
Other characters were Gyp DeCarlo (Adrian Carr), the local mob boss; Mary Delgado (Claudia Pereira), Frankie’s wife; Bob Crewe (Dale Shearman), the studio boss; and Joey Pesci (Lyndon Steele), a local kid who introduces Bob Gaudio to the band.
Pesci is an interesting character with what would now be described as ADHD, bouncing around with the enthusiasm of a five year old that he can help DeVito out. Later in life, he becomes the actor, Joe Pesci. Carr was great as the mob boss, Mary Delgado played the hard done by wife to a tee, and Shearman had one of the deepest voices I had heard on stage for a while.
All of the cast members, other than the main four, had other numerous parts, as well as the ones credited in the program. The entire cast was also singing and dancing to great choreography (Jennifer Morison) and the audience was toe tapping or clapping to the beat through most of the show.
The stage had two main sets comprising of steps and platforms at each side, and able to exit underneath. Various props were carried or wheeled on and off the stage by the cast themselves, seamlessly. The absolutely fantastic orchestra (conductor Robert Clark) were sequestered behind a screen at the back of the stage but silhouetted until the end when the screen lifted and they became part of the cast. The cast treated the audience to an encore and the band kept playing once they were off the stage with Clark providing his own moves.
Costumes and hair were reminiscent of the era (1960s to 1970s) with the Four Seasons being dressed in the atypical suits and coloured blazers that was a trademark of many of the bands of that time.
One of the things that you tend to be reminded about when you see a show that is based on the life of a band or person, is how much influence and impact, their music had at the time and how many songs you actually know the words to.
While the audience was mostly in their, dare I say, twilight years, there were also younger people too enjoying the show. The audience certainly showed its appreciation with a standing ovation.
Well done to the cast, and crew, for a stupendous, lively, show.