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It's Just to Good To Be True!
Member Name: T4imbo3107
Advantages: Entertaining is an understatement!
Disadvantages: Be warned.... you'll be in the theatre for three over hours!
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!
Summary: Sheeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrii.... Sherri baby!
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