Jersey Boys

It’s a Wednesday night in March and the UK tour of Jersey Boys has reached its final destination: the Edinburgh Playhouse. As the audience spills out onto the street, a young man starts to serenade his girlfriend with his own rendition of the musical’s showstopper Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. As the pair twirl, singing the well-known refrain, an elderly couple start to clap along and the crowd cheers. It is a genuinely heart-warming moment that epitomises the success of this jukebox hit.

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.

Reviews by Francesca Street

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The Blurb

The internationally acclaimed stage sensation, Jersey Boys is touring the UK and Ireland for the very first time! This smash hit musical has won 57 major awards worldwide, including the Olivier Award for Best New Musical and continues to play at the Piccadilly Theatre, London.

Jersey Boys tells the true life story of four boys from the wrong side of the tracks who wrote their own songs, invented their own unique sound, and sold 100 million records worldwide.

Featuring hit after legendary hit including “Beggin’”, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, “Oh What A Night”, “Sherry”, “Walk Like A Man”, “Bye Bye Baby”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, and many more, Jersey Boys is a story full of heart, humour and “sheer musical razzmatazz” (The Sunday Express) you simply will never forget.