It’s a Wednesday night in March and the
UK tour of
This is a show crammed with iconic moments
Jersey Boys chronicles the real-life rise to fame of the four New Jersey musicians who became the Four Seasons. Appropriately, the musical structures itself into four “seasons”: the group’s story is split between its four members, each of whom narrates a section from his own perspective. This postmodern narrative tactic allows the band to narrate the events of the ‘60s and ‘70s with modern-day hindsight. This knowing narration adds humour, pathos and helpfully acknowledges confusing time-jumps.
Jersey Boys opens with a breakneck, slightly disorientating pace; years of exposition swiftly pass by in the first fifteen minutes. Fortunately this fast pace evens out as our four protagonists unite for the first time. Besides, Jersey Boys has a dynamic charm that prevails even in the confusing opening. This is a show crammed with iconic moments: from the moment the Four Seasons sing together for the first time, to the spectacular live renditions of hits such as Bye Bye Baby, Beggin’ and Big Girls Don’t Cry.
The four charismatic leads inhabit their roles with easy confidence and convincing New Jersey accents. Matt Corner impressively fills Frankie Valli’s shoes; believably the group’s star, he has his forerunner’s unique falsetto down. The moment when Corner gets to break loose and sing Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You sets the Edinburgh Playhouse on fire. Proudly watching over him during this number is Sam Ferriday’s likable Bob Gaudio, the teenage prodigy turned Four Seasons’ songwriter who pens the hits and forms a lifelong partnership with Valli. The quartet is completed by gambling charmer Tommy DeVito (Stephen Webb), whose carelessness with money gets the group in trouble with the Mafia and Lewis Griffiths’ enigmatic Nick Massi.
The group’s dazzling performances are complimented by simple but clever staging: when the Four Seasons sing on television, a projector incorporates footage of the cast with original ‘60s television. The small supporting cast whisk costumes and set off stage to keep pace. Most memorably, Jersey Boys portrays one of the Four Seasons’ sell-out concerts from the back viewpoint, depicting the band performing to a large crowd.
Jersey Boy’s killer soundtrack, great narrative and dynamic central performances make it a captivating night out. The UK tour might have ended in Edinburgh, but the West End production continues to dazzle and is not to be missed.