Director: Des McAnuff
Writer: Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice
Choreographer: Sergio Trujillo
Reviewer: Fraser MacDonald
The rise and fall of four unlikely stars from Jersey is well documented, yet few know the real story of how Frankie Castelluccio and his questionable chums became one of the most recognisable quartets in music. So who better to tell the tale than the four men themselves, the folks who would become The Four Seasons? As it turns out, the answer is pretty much anyone else.
The clean-cut red suit jackets, the symmetrically placed microphones and the harmonies were all there. The immense catalogue of hits was rung out loud and enthusiastically. So where did it all go wrong for this touring production of Jersey Boys?
Slow to warm, we hear the first of the Four Season’s hits, Sherry, after a never ending back story that really could have been injected with a little more than awkward B-sides. This may have been forgivable if an attempt was made to connect the performers to their under-enthused audience, but no such attempts were made. The whole performance is painfully rigid and two dimensional. There is no feeling of inclusiveness for the audience, who could so easily have played their part in the show.
There is no real rapport between the four protagonists. Though it is clear from the storyline that tensions always existed between the characters, there was no exploration of the bonds that held them together. It may have been about the music, the booze or the girls but there is clearly more to their story than just these superficial things. Emotion may be in short supply in this production, but a little depth from the headline Boys could go a long way.
The production is not a complete washout, but it is a disappointment. It would be wholly unfair to deny the talent of the musicians in bringing the music of the Four Seasons to life. Act II is a whole lot more enjoyable than the former, mainly because it is packed with more of the hits that audiences come to see. They are delivered with oomph and Dayle Hodge, the alternate Valli who appears on stage for Glasgow’s Press Night, showcases a truly astounding vocal range. Hodge’s fellow Seasons do blend well to offer melodic harmonies that do absolve a multitude of sins.
The ensemble leaves more to be desired, with an interesting array of accents and varying vocal ability. The depth of performance never elevates beyond the two-dimensional, leaving the deeply intimate scenes between Valli and his estranged wife totally devoid of any substance. This is frustrating, knowing that there is potential for emotionally charged moments, but these that could barely power a watch.
The shine has, sadly, been removed from what was a first-class West End production but the less discerning can still enjoy a night of Four Seasons hits played out in a single evening.
At best, this is a vocal tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, in which case it could have included more than these cut-down versions of the Billboard chart-toppers. At worst, it is an amateur, half-baked attempt at retelling a potentially glorious piece of musical history.
Runs until 14 April 2018, then touring | Image: Contributed