* Prices may differ from that shown
One of the reasons I can't bring myself to move away from London is my love of the theatre. I love everything about the West End and whether it's a musical or smaller, independent play I'm there at least once a month. Last week my mum and dad were visiting along with my auntie who hasn't been to London since I've lived there and my partner and I wanted to take her to a musical. She narrowed it down to a few shows and I managed to find a great deal and my dad kindly bought tickets for 5 of us to see Jersey Boys. The show follows the lives of the four men from New Jersey who went on to become The Four Seasons, one of the most popular and successful pop bands to ever come out of America. Jersey Boys has now been running in the West End for four years since it opened after its success on Broadway and is one of the most popular shows in London.
=== The story ===
At the start of the show we meet Tommy DeVito who talks the audience through the beginnings of The Four Seasons. Tommy is a musician who wants to form a band as a way out of his inevitable future in crime. He originally forms The Lovers along with his brother and a friend but with various stints in prison, the group does not hit the big time. When Tommy hears 16 year old Frankie Castelluccio sing he encourages him to join the band along with new bassist Nick Massi and become their lead singer. The group starts as a trio but Tommy is convinced that they need a fourth, composer and musician, Bob Gaudio who was introduced to the band by their friend (and future Oscar winner) Joe Pesci! The rest is history! The show tells the story of their lives, their loves and how the band reforms several times, yet how the four original members of The Four Seasons remain loyal to each other and come together years later to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
= The characters =
Tommy DeVito is portrayed by Jon Boydon who for me has the most authentic New Jersey accent and is my favourite character. In and out of jail, Tommy sees the band as a way of making money and getting out of New Jersey. He started the band and without him they would not have been successful, but he is caught up in criminal circles and owes a lot of money which makes him a liability. Jon Boydon is excellent in the role and for me was the stand out performer both times I have seen it. His singing voice is excellent, but it is his portrayal of Tommy's flawed character which is so compelling that he is likeable, even when he is treating his bandmates badly. Boydon has an extensive background in theatre playing roles in Jesus Christ Superstar and recently completing a two year stint in We Will Rock You and it was evident that he was an accomplished actor as he was so believable in the role.
Frankie Valli is the young trainee barber who is recruited by Tommy to join the band as the lead singer. Last time I saw the show the understudy was covering the fantastic Ryan Molloy so I couldn't wait to see him. Imagine my disbelief and horror this time when Jon Lee, formerly of S Club 7, walked out on stage! Some people may think it's strange that I can identify him but he has been doing the theatre rounds for a while now and I'd heard some good reviews so kept my fingers crossed that he wouldn't let me down! Anyway, I was shocked to find he had an incredible falsetto range and sang the songs perfectly! His voice wasn't the strongest but I was really impressed with how well he performed and all the notes he hit. I didn't think that Jon's acting was brilliant and therefore didn't connect with the character or care about what happened to him as much as the others!
Nick Massi is an old friend of Tommy's who he becomes the bass player in the band. When Tommy is sent to jail, he asks Nick to take Frankie under his wing and improve his singing voice. He is also the bass singer in the band and Eugene McCoy has the most wonderful voice for the deep parts of the vocal arrangements, which Nick always wrote for The Four Seasons. Eugene McCoy is absolutely amazing as solemn and quiet Nick who goes along with whatever Tommy suggests. He doesn't seem to enjoy the success and lifestyle as much as the others and often states jokingly that is going to go off and create his own band. He plays the role so flawlessly that I imagine McCoy is exactly the same in real life, although he does slip in and out of the accent when he's shouting!
The final member to join the band is Bob Gaudio, a young songwriter and musician who is introduced to the band by Joe Pesci! He immediately forms a close bond with Frankie and the two make a pact over a handshake to always split their profits from any song writing and performance deals, a deal which causes issues with the other members of the group. It is Gaudio who pens the song Sherry, which catapults The Four Seasons into the charts, and went on to write all of their subsequent songs. One of the highlights of the show for me is 'December 63 (Oh What A Night)' which unlike other songs which they perform as a band, Bob sings this the night about the night he loses his virginity. It might be cheesy but the whole audience erupted into laughter when Tommy walked over to sing the line "as I recall it ended much too soon"! Matthew Wycliffe who plays Bob is a great actor and singer and in my opinion is underused in the singing department!
= The music =
The production features all of The Four Seasons big hits including Sherry, Big Girls Don't cry, Walk Like A Man and Bye Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye). My favourite song and the one I wait for the whole time is December 63 (Oh What A Night). As I mentioned earlier, Bob Gaudio sings this on the night he loses his virginity and the whole thing is very funny but he really shows what an excellent singer he is! I was particularly excited when they sang Bye Bye Baby as I had no idea that it was a Frankie Valli song but the biggest treat is Frankie singing 'You're Just Too Good To Be True" as again, I had no idea they had written it! The audience went absolutely wild after Jon's excellent performance and I seem to remember it was the same last time.
Towards the start of the show as it describes the beginnings of the band, the songs features are not very well known although 'You're the Apple of my Eye' apparently charted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 62. It is not until their big break on The Ed Sullivan Show where they perform Sherry that the band really blows up. I loved how they did this in the show. The band performed the song in front of a huge camera, the projection from which was shown on a huge black and white cinema screen which looked like archive footage from the actual television show from the 60s! I loved it and thought this was a great touch and jazzed up a good, but quite ordinary stage set.
The dancing is nothing compared to the boy bands today, but I loved it! The marching on the spot and stepping forwards and backwards is so simple but so effective for the songs. It's all so stiff and proper and you just don't get that in the charts today! The vocal arrangements were brilliant and were kept exactly as Nick Massi wrote them 50 years ago. Eugene McCoy as Nick, although not the lead singer, bosses each arrangement with his excellent bass range and they really get the unique sound of The Four Seasons.
= Where to get tickets and how much =
Tickets can be bought in all the usual ways; Seetickets, Ticketmaster and on the Jersey Boys London website. The cheapest tickets are up in the grand circle and cost £20 tickets. The more expensive stalls tickets are really expensive at £67.50 tickets and the premier tickets (front two rows of the dress circle) are £85 which is ridiculous! However, I always have a look on lastminute.com to see if there are any offers or meal deals. I found a £40 meal deal which included a ticket of up to £45 in value and a main course and glass of wine at Kitchen Italia at Covent Garden! The food was quite nice and for £40 I couldn't complain about any of it, including our tickets which were on the front row of the grand circle.
= Location =
The Prince Edward Theatre is in Soho, within easy walking distance of public transport including Leicester Square, Covent Garden and Tottenham Court Road underground stations. The theatre is in a perfect location for a night out with Chinatown a couple of roads away and the delights of Soho on the doorstep. It's right next to legendary London clubs G.A.Y and Ronnie Scott's; two very different nights out! It's one of the most exciting and fun places to be in London with a variety of pubs, bars, restaurants and the most diverse range of people you will ever find and lights everywhere!
= What's so good about it =
Jersey Boys has now been running for almost four years in London and six years on Broadway and shows no sign of slowing down. It is one of the London shows which commands a full audience every night and receives a standing ovation each time. Brilliant songs and a talented cast are generally what make any musical special and there are few in the West End which can compete with Jersey Boys in this department. The Four Seasons produced some of the most recognisable songs of the 1960s which have been covered around the world and used in films and adverts. There are very few people who would not the songs and even the younger audience would know 'December '63 Oh What a Night' (Forest Gump and others), 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You' (10 Things I Hate About You) or 'Big Girls Don't Cry' (Dirty Dancing).
= Overall =
Musical theatre is one of my favourite things so there was very little chance I wouldn't like Jersey Boys when I went to see it. However, I was surprised at just how fantastic the cast were and especially Jon Lee in the role of Frankie. Who would have thought that the little lad with the blonde hair who looked like a child in S Club 7 would have such a wonderful falsetto range and the power to deliver Frankie Valli songs? Not me. His acting may not have been as great as the rest of the cast but it certainly didn't stop me from enjoying the show and the rest of our group loved it too.
A quote from Johnnie Walker from BBC 2 is displayed on the Jersey Boys website, "The best show you will ever see". Well, I'm not sure about that; I can name at least five West End shows that I prefer to Jersey Boys. However, it is a fantastic production, the cast are great, the music is wonderful and you will enjoy every second. Fully recommended for adults (but there is a lot of swearing in it so don't take children!). 4 out of 5 stars!
Jersey Boys...oh dear. Sorry folks - I couldn't be left out of the search for a 'Franki Valli and the Four Seasons' song related title. They have a ridiculous amount of songs which lend themselves to topping off a Dooyoo review and mine will be no exception. I think my title also has more resonance due to my dribbly fascination with Ryan Molloy (the guy playing Franki Valli in London).
I wouldn't have chosen to see it myself because I didn't realise I knew quite so many Franki Valli songs and I was worried it would be some sort of tribute act where I'm usually squat between my aunt happy clapping and blaring out to every track and my mother using my knee to clap on. But I said to my mother dearest she could choose any show for her birthday and come to stay in London with me and this is the one she wanted. I was obviously in an exceptional mood because low and behold I went one better and said she could sit anywhere. SO that's how I parted with £104.00 + admin charges for 2 seats just 2 rows from the front stage. Ouch you say? I would part with it again in a second. Well...maybe not RIGHT now but ya know what I mean.
***The Theatre - Where is it showing?***
From its debut on Broadway, Jersey Boys has shimmied over to the UK and can be seen at the Prince Edward Theatre (part of the Delfont Mackintosh theatre group) which is conveniently near a few tubes - Tottenham Court Road probably proving to be the most accessible. It's fairly easy to find and is surrounded by tons of places to eat pre-show and drink afterwards. The theatre itself is decorated in accordance with the 1960's decor - predominantly red from what I can recall although I'm happy to be corrected.
We were led down to the stalls, and for some reason they were not using the front row so, being second row we were actually the first row there. There are cheaper or matched seats in the Dress Circle and Grand Circle above. Although I can see the benefit of sitting up and being able to look down on the set, there were very few instances where I felt like I was disadvantaged by being so close. I would only opt in future to be a few rows back as I quite liked the intimacy (and Ryan Molloy was obviously singing to me once he saw my beaming grin and puppy dog eyes staring adoringly up at him...he mouthed 'I love you' and the spot light focused on us both...oh wait - sorry!)
***The Jersey Boys***
So for those also under the illusion it might be some poor imitation group just milking the Four Seasons and Franki's success...you're wrong. I was wrong - we are so wrong. It is actually the telling of the story of their rise to fame from their roots in New Jersey. If you get the programme you are progressively told the story through quotations which are directly lifted from the performance. I love this because I then click at different points and tune in because I glimpsed the programme and wanted to know more.
The story is told through the eyes of all five main characters and their impact and inclusion into the trials and tribulations of the group. You also gain insight into the relationships that develop and some of the really exceptional circumstances that this group found themselves in and the amount of debt which Franki fairly independently lifted the group out of. I really don't want to give too much away concerning the plot because that's not the point of the review, but I want to give you an overarching view! Each character takes on different points of the narrative, essentially when they each had to come into their own throughout the group's development.
There was never a dull moment, never a moment where I thought "God this is dragging" - I just loved it. The set was fairly straightforward but so versatile and used really well. The gorgeous girls done up in 1960's dress with gorgeous hair styles and outfits as well as the men in their dapper suits and slacks with those slicked back hair styles. Yum. I was born 40 years too late!!
The actors were awesome, all carrying accents well although towards the end the accent of one of the characters did wane a tad...he sounded sort of Arnold Schwartanegger at times...just me? Ok! There are two original cast members who have stayed with the show since it started in London; Ryan Molloy playing an exceptional Franki Valli with that high pitch tone, just incredible, and also Stephen Ashfield playing Bob Gaudio. Despite being some swapping and changing of the other two characters, there was a natural chemistry between the whole cast. Tommy DeVito was played by Jon Boydon and Nick Massi (the one whose accent wasn't totally consistent but in no way hindered the performance!) played by Eugene McCoy. None of the cast are 'well known' but they were moulding their names in the bright lights by being just that - they were exceptional, all British born with authentic New Jersey accents.
For those committed fans, you will want to know a handful of the tracks that you will definitely want to hear. My favourite currently being 'My Eyes Adored You', you will also hear 'Sherrie', 'Fallen Angel', 'Walk Like A Man', 'Big Girls Don't Cry' and 'Who Loves You'. I was pleasantly surprised by 'Beggin' being there as obviously the association with this track is with the modern track by Madcon. The songs were seamlessly included, moving in with the action - never being dubbed in at the last minute or seemingly unfitting. One of the funnier tracks being 'December 1963 (Oh What A Night)' relating to the awakening of Bob Gaudio from his prior innocence...!
I LOVED JERSEY BOYS. There was the perfect mix of humour; the songs were well placed and sung perfectly. Just today my mother and I ran December 1963 the original and the cast version after each other and the impression was so authentic it would take an avid fan to really tell the difference. The wonderful, colourful story, the quick set changes utilising the different cast members to create different diners and performance areas, the massive signs suspending from the ceiling and suddenly illuminating as they played different shows. The use of a metal staircase and walkway which represented a number of things; frequent visits to jail, the meeting of prominent figures and the heartbreaking deaths which knocked Franki for six, as well as the death of relationships; lovers and friends. The one that really got me was Nick Massi's exit. A stunningly well made musical - I couldn't rate it more highly. I grinned from ear to ear - and not just because Ryan Malloy had me enchanted. My eyes adored it.
***Check out the website too!! Well worth a peek! Also Ryan Malloy has released an album 'Ryan sings Franki'! I definitely prefer the original cast recording but still - check it out!!***
As it was our tenth wedding anniversary this weekend my husband and I decided to treat ourselves to a weekend in London with a visit to a West End show. The show we chose was Jersey Boys and we were so glad that we did as it is truly a brilliant show and one that at some point I would love to see again.
The show is performed at the Prince Edward Theatre and the nearest tube station is Tottenham Court Road which is quite handy as it is on both the Northern and the Central line. It is only a short walk to the theatre.
Jersey Boys is based on the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons going back to the time when the group was first formed in 1960 and struggling to be heard right up to the present day. It is a story with many ups and downs but it is a totally fascinating story accompanied by some fantastic tunes that were originally performed by the group. Throughout the show, each of the original group members take turns in telling their version of events which I really liked. Sometimes two people might remember certain times slightly differently to others!
There is no one that well known taking any of the leading roles but I actually prefer this when watching musicals. Sometimes a star billing can detract from the story, and the four performers taking on the roles of the four group members were all absolutely brilliant. The singing was excellent and I do have to particularly mention the actor playing Frankie Valli as he sang all the high notes just as wonderfully as the original. In the show we watched Frankie Valli was being played by Scott Monello who only takes the role in certain performances as it is so demanding on the voice. All the performers on stage were all excellent though and the singing and the choreography were just mesmerising!
There are some fabulous musical numbers and far too many to mention them all but I will just pick out a few of my favourites - Sherry, Big Girls Don't Cry, Walk like a Man, December 1963, My Eyes Adored You, Let's Hang on, Can't Take my Eyes Off You and Who Loves You? As we were making our way to the show, me and my husband were trying to think of what Four Seasons songs that we knew and could only think of a couple. Therefore, it was a really lovely surprise to discover that I knew so many once the show started and they are all great songs.
We couldn't help noticing that the audience was probably slightly older on the whole than for most shows and that is probably due to the fact that if you remember the Sixties you will remember all of this music first time round. Having seen jersey Boys though, I would definitely say that it is a show for everyone and it would be a shame if slightly younger audience members missed out by choosing to see other shows instead.
We really enjoyed this show and it was perhaps even better because it was based on a true story but linking all the music of the Four Seasons. My husband very astutely commented after the show that it worked better than say 'We Will Rock You' or 'Mamma Mia' because the songs are there because that is what the group performed rather than contriving together to attempt to fit in with a story - if that makes sense.
Unfortunately going to the theatre is not cheap so it can only ever be a rare treat for us. We booked a package through the Show and Stay website but I can tell you that just to buy a single ticket for Jersey Boys ranges from £21.75 (Grand Circle) to £64.25. There are eight performances a week from Tuesday through to Sunday including three matinee performances. There is also quite a lot of strong language so the website states that it is not a suitable show for the under twelves.
I am an avid theatre goer and fan but for some reason Jersey Boys had never really appealed to me when looking for shows to go and see. However, my sister had been raving on about it and when we were looking for a show to go and see we decided that we would give it a go.
We weren't disappointed!
We booked our tickets through the Delfont Mackintosh theatre website which was easy to use. The show is popular but it is possible to get tickets, especially on a week night. Another thing to mention is that twice we have wanted to change our tickets after booking, once at very short notice, and the theatre were very happy to do this if there were seats available for the show we wanted to see, provided we returned the other tickets to them first and paid a £1.75 admin fee.
The show is in the Prince Edward theatre which is just off Shaftesbury Avenue in the centre of the West End. The theatre is well kept and the seats are comfortable (more on seats later).
The show itself is the based around the true life story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It takes you through their lives right from the beginning when they were forming the group and looking for the different members, to the high points of their success and then the lows when the group began to break down. It also tells a lot about their personal lives and what was going on behind the scenes. It was partly written by Bob Gaudio who was an orginal member of the band and he had a lot of input during the rehearsal period.
The songs are all songs from that the orginal group did but rather than it being the typical 'juke box muscial' that a lot of theatre goers don't like, somehow the songs work well to tell the story. There are a lot of songs that people will recognise but don't necessarily realise were done by the Four Seasons, and the tunes will definitely have you humming along and wanting to get up and dance!
The story is split into four parts (2 in each half of the show), all named after the different seasons - ie spring, summer, autumn and winter. Each season is narrated by a different member of the band so you get to hear the different perspectives of each character.
The set is quite simple but very effective.
The actors themselves are all fantastic. We saw the original cast which had Ryan Molloy as Frankie, Stephen Ashfield as Bob Gaudio, Phillip Bulcock as Nick Massi and Glenn Carter as Tommy De Vito. They all sing fantastically, especially Ryan who had the most to do, and all are great characters. You could really relate to what all of them were feeling. The main cast has changed although Ryan and Stephen are still there.
The upshot of it was that we loved it and I have since been back about five times to see it!
Just a quick note on the seats - we sat in quite a few different places. I prefer sitting in the stalls so I can see more usually. The first time we were right at the back of the Upper Circle and although the overall view was good, you don't get to see the small nuances and facial expressions. The stalls were good seats, and we also sat in the loges once which are short rows of seats which come down at the sides of the Circle towards the stalls. They were actually very good seats and you had a good view of the stage overall as well as being close enough to see small details. You can get front row restricted view seats for 20 pounds. The stage comes up quite high so I think you cannot see what happens right at the back of the stage from this row and you might also get a bit of neck ache but probably worth the price!
So all in all, definitely worth seeing! One of my favourite shows in the West End at the moment!
"Discover how four New Jersey boys from the wrong side of the tracks invented their own unique sound, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and sold 100 million records worldwide. With spectacular performances of all their hits, JERSEY BOYS is the true life story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons"
When i watch the Royal Variety performance each year, the highlight for me is always the musical theatre performers. So, flash back to 2008 and on come the Jersey Boys. I was fazed by my parents telling me that they wanted to see it and instantly was put off. But when the London cast sung a medley of 'Sherry/Big Girls dont cry/Walk like a man/Who loves you' i was intruiged. Five months later i find myself sat in the Prince Edwards theatre in London watching the show.
The show is brilliant. The primary cast Ryan Molloy (Frankie Valli) Glenn Carter (Tommy DiVito) Stephen Ashfield (Bob Gaudio) and Phillip Bulcock (Nick Massey) are outstanding. The high lights: "Sherry", "Oh What a Night", "Cant take my eyes off you", "Fallen Angel" and "Who loves you?". The stage set isn't overglamorous but it does the job and the show consists of a lot of songs so it's actionpacked. I was suprised at how brilliant it was and im going to see it again. i would urge everyone to go see this.
It's also worth noting that those wanting to see the show can get front row seats for £20 via the website. sometimes requires you to google the offer. decent seats, maybe a bit too close for comfort but v.good view.
I live in London and wish I could go to the theatre more, but is does tend to be quite expensive. When my Mum comes up to visit my we do often go though which is a very nice treat. This time my Mum and sister went to go and get tickets but I had mentioned this is one of the shows I would like to see. They managed to get some reduced tickets in the stalls section and so we went to see the show.
I didn't actually know much about the show before I saw it. I knew that it was about the band the Four Seasons and I knew a couple of their songs. I had actually seem them perform some of the songs on a variety show on TV and this was the main reason I wanted to see the show.
The Jersey Boys is shown at the Prince Edward Theatre in Soho. I work just down the road so wasn't hard to find. It is between Tottenham Court Road Station and Leicester Square and only a short walk from both. Tickets for the show can be purchased from the theatre direct, which is what we did, or you can buy them from various ticket booths around central London. They can also be purchased more in advance from See Tickets.
The theatre itself is nice and all the people who work there were very friendly and helpful. As we were seated in the stalls we went down to the downstairs bar where we had a glass of wine. The bar downstairs was quite empty and the drinks were reasonably priced for a theatre. You can also buy snacks from the bar. I found the rest room facilities to be of a clean condition and they were a pleasure to use.
The theatre is a good size but not too large so I think everyone has got a reasonably good chance of being able to see. We were sat in the stalls and I found them to be a good view as the seats in front were sloped just enough to be able to see well. The seats were also fairly comfortable. The boxes looked quite good as there were a number of them spread across both sides.
Anyway enough about the theatre and onto the show itself... Jersey Boys as I said previously is based around the story of the band 'The Four Seasons' and the singer Frankie Valli. The story starts being told by Tommy Devito (Glenn Carter) who is one of the original band members. The original band started with him, Nick Massi (Philip Bulcock) and Tommy's brother Nick as well. Tommy manages to come across an amazing singer, the young Frankie Valli (Ryan Molloy) who joins the group. Tommys brother ends up in prison and so they have to find someone to replace him. They manage to find a songwriter called Bob Gaudio (Stephen Ashfield) and the band is complete. The production shows their journey as the band goes through ups and downs. It also showcases all of the most famous songs from the group.
The story of the show as a whole isn't the most exciting of all the shows I have ever seen. It is based on a true story so this obviously gives less scope for making it exciting and unreal. Despite this it is a really interesting story, especially if like me you didn't know much about the band. There are also plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested. I liked that as well as the actual story there was a comedy element. This made it more entertaining and fun to watch.
The whole show was narrated by different members of the group throughout. This allowed you to see what happened in the different members eyes as they all had different experiences to each other.
The songs in the show are probably what makes it. The band released some brilliant songs, many of which I didn't atually know were done by the band. Songs like Beggin and Bye Bye Baby were songs I have heard the covers of but never the original. These were quite a surprise when I heard them and were particulatly enjoyable. I recognised about three quarters of the songs which was a lot more than I thought I would. The audience seemed to enjoy the music and songs like 'oh what a night' got some clapping along.
The acting in the show was very good. The main character Frankie was played really well by Ryan Molloy. Having since looked at pictures of the real Frankie , they have a good resemblence. The producers of the show did a brilliant job of finding someone who looked and sounded like the real Frankie. He was great at performing through the songs in terms of singing and dancing and you almost felt that you were at the performance back in the 60's. The other characters also did a great job at their roles. The backing dancers and singers were all very good and helped add to the entertainment value.
The show ended with a well deserved standing ovation. I think the performances of the Four Seasons songs alone was brilliant and well worth watching.
Overall it was a great show that I would happily go and see again.
I got this CD because of all the hype on Royal Variety, an Elaine Paige interview on radio two and the fact that my colleague went to see it and would not shut up about it.
I like musicals a lot, I don't always like 'jukebox musicals'
I put this CD on when was driving home and hated it. i couldn't dind a song I new. Well, apart from 'Oh What a Night' or 'Ce Soiree La'. the talk made no sense and I got bored.
My next car trip and put it on again. I skipped to 'Sherry Baby' and I was blown away, Then comes 'Big Girls Don't cry' and 'Walk Like A Man'.
This was turning into the best CD soundtrack of recent year.
If you've not seen the show you'll find it hard to get into. By the end of the CD you don't want it to end. hit after nit after hit. Did you know they sang Bye bye Baby, made famous by the Bay City Rollers? Or 'Can't Take My Eyes of of you'?
the genius in this album is that the guy playing Franky Valli sounds like him. You soon block out the narrative and realise the songs are brilliant. By the end of the CD you want more. 'Who Loves You Baby?' is a great finale and i can imagine on stage shouting for more and more and more. At least here you can hit repeat.
It's great value two i got this and one other soundtrack for £10 in a deal at HMV. I think it should have been £8.99
This is one of those albums that grows on you...................and stays with you.
When I went to see The Rat Pack at Wimbledon Theatre last year I have to say I had a very enjoyable evening. So when my other half suggested that we go to se Jersey Boys, you can imagine the look on my face, a look that I add that can only be described as sheer joy. I had never been to see a London based show so I had a high level of expectation from the evening.
Booking the tickets for the evening was easy; as I was working in Central London at the time I decided to use the Box Office at the Prince Edward Theatre instead of using Ticketmaster. The staff were friendly and were professional in the manner than I was dealt with. As both the in-laws were also coming with us, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that a person who is registered Disabled and a carer get in for just £20 each!!! So all in all for four people it came to a refreshing total of £160 instead of £240. Bargain!
So what's it all about? Basically in a nutshell it's all about Frankie Valli; the story takes us from his life from a teenager in 1950's New Jersey to the final days of Valli when he was the lead in Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. With the music of The Four Seasons being the bi-product and guiding in how the story is told, thankfully it's not told in a karaoke manner at all like other shows have tended to get marked down for. Here it is performed in a way that it compliments the scene without actually defocusing from what is actually happening. Bottom line is that even though this is a stage play, the tale is delivered in more of a documentary style than what I had initially expected at the beginning.
Also it's interesting to note that all scenes bar a handful are narrated by another cast member of The Four Seasons, so it is the main cast of four men who naturally are The Four Seasons that are centric to the story and the story telling is told from various points of view of the different characters. This keeps the freshness and immediately eliminates ant repetition that the narration by the same person can create.
This is a high octane show and although moves very slowly at the start, the show tend to build up momentum at speed, not break neck, but by the end you do seriously want to get and dance. Which in my mind is right, it is always the end of the show that in theory there will be the most activity, especially if the story involves something like show business.
Don't forget that this was a time well before distractions like X Factor and as the show unfolds you get to see a group of talented men who change their band name on a regular basis to look fresh, write their own music and basically attempt to make their family lives as comfortable as possible. It is an emotional tale that spares no expense on airing the ups and also using the show to highlight the lows to which all members have their own shares of the downs. Personally I thought that the down pieces of the show were played in a very dramatic way that had a maximum impact to the audience on how this affected the people involved in the issues that is being dramatised on stage. The message was delivered and it was fully understood. Most of the downs were things that can only come with celebrity status, and the astonishing thing was how these were managed.
The scenes are constantly changing and this is what makes this a high energy show. It is how the stage movement is managed that's very clever, the narrator stands in the spotlight and acts as a conduit between scenes, in the darkness of the background the stage is re-arranged to accommodate the next scene. This is all done within 20 to 30 seconds of the last scene finishing, so imagine what its like to take part in this exercise that can really only be compared to a military operation as everything has to be precisely timed. As you may be aware I was very impressed with this as you just couldn't fault the movements at all and seeing as this was nearly a three hour show, you can imagine just how pressurised this can be. The stage has fixed scenery with a walk way and two staircases, these are utilised in so many mediums that you just forget it's actually there. It never moves at all, but it is the way in which it is dressed that makes the difference as it acts as a portal and a frame of the events that take place within it and with a set of screens added in as well to introduce the various segments of the show makes the stage presentation a very smooth and stylish operation.
With an Intermission, the show is split into two equal parts, in the first part you never get to hear a song all the way through as only parts of them are played as the group is up and coming. So you are given a taste of exactly how good they are as a group. I have to again emphasise that the music is in proportion to the story itself and does not necessarily act as a foundation to the story as this is about a group of men and how Valli became the famous lead singer. The songs of The Four Seasons work with the story and are finely balanced between drama and music, however songs are used to emphasise and compliment various points in the second part after the intermission. This is done in a very tasteful manner that never ruins the moment and makes the storytelling and enjoyable and multi dimensional event.
As the show is complimented by the music of the Four Seasons, it makes sense to cast someone who has the same stature and vocal capabilities of Valli himself. The actor that played Valli was Ryan Molloy. He is a well known stage performer and was also the lead singer for Frankie Goes to Hollywood after Holly Johnson left. With a singing voice that strongly competes with the sound of Valli, I was mesmerised as to how close the actor was to Valli at his prime in sound and looks. Molloy manages to deliver a much respected and faithful stage version of Valli with the range of his voice, reaching the high notes wasn't a problem at all and this in turn kicked off a round of applause from the audience when the first rendition of Sherri was performed. Some scenes are off-set with a small amount of comedy, this acts a breather to the story, yet the comedy is never overplayed at any time at all.
Even though I thought I knew most of the songs of the group I was still surprised to hear a certain song that the Bay City Rollers later covered - Bye Bye Baby. Also when you hear the music, not only will you realise what an impact this music actually had on the American audience, but will be aware of how influential the Four Seasons actually were with the music that Franki Valli, Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi, and Bob Gaudio performed.
Overall, other than being well balanced show of awesome proportions and high calibre with quality professional performances from the entire cast, it also manages to highlight the strengths of friendship between the four main cast and the tussles this friendship caused between family members. The show has the full blessing of Valli and it portrays the evolution as to how The Four Seasons became a household name across the world. It is very interesting and extremely entertaining to watch and listen to. There were members of the audience that I could hear singing along in a low volume to the song being performed, this only added to the atmosphere. I was one of them and for me that was a good sign indeed. This is a show that I would not only recommend but would definitely want to see again; in fact I think my other half may want me to see it again! The run at the Prince Edward Theatre has been extended to 2010 and I personally believe that's impressive considering the financial conditions and the credit crunch. Oh, and my expectations were met..... and exceeded!