Jersey Boys - Slicker Than An Oil Spill!
Phil Hopkins, Arts & Travel Editor
Sport, Mafia or music, the probable fate of New Jersey’s ‘Boys from the Hood’.
Fortunately, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons chose the latter despite a brief relationship with petty crime.
And decades on their music is living proof that they made the right decision, for we are heirs to a rich catalogue of songs that have been immortalised, yet further, in Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s mega musical Jersey Boys.
This really is a slick production that is beautifully directed so that the action is not allowed to stop for a second, and director, Des McAnuff’s stagecraft is as key to the success of Bob Gaudio’s music as the numbers are themselves.
Clearly there was continuing friction between the original Four Seasons, Valli, Tommy Devito, Gaudio and Nick Massi, before Valli eventually became the definitive front man and evolved into Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.
And it is that character friction that is so well articulated in Jersey Boys, because the two writers of the musical spoke to each member of the original line up before putting pen to paper and, when they did, they gave each character a voice without taking sides. You get four versions of the same story.
“That Tommy Devito is horrid, I just don’t like him,” said one of the critics at the interval. But, she wasn’t talking about Simon Bailey who played him, but the character himself. And, she was right, Devito was a pain in the ass and Bailey brought him to life with his beautifully arrogant, self-righteous delivery.
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Lewis Griffiths was Nick Massi, the singer who walks because he wants to go home, and Declan Egan as Bob Gaudio, was the ambitious boy keen to pen tunes but less keen to be on stage. And each of them had a story.
The Jersey Boys works because the life story runs parallel with the music, just like in ‘Beautiful, The Carole King Musical’. This isn’t ‘let’s get a bunch of songs’ and thread a story round them – Mamma Mia is a totally different animal – but the Jersey Boys delivers on all fronts; an amazing story, superb music and fantastic performances.
It will hook you in and appeal to the essence of your humanity, the desire to be told a good old yarn. Add in great music and it is little wonder that Brickman and Elice have cooked up a recipe for success. I highly recommend it.
Until Saturday June 2nd 2018 at The Bradford Alhambra
Jersey Boys - Slicker Than An Oil Spill!, 24th May 2018, 11:43 AM