Reviewer: Donna Kelly
Since bursting onto the scene back in 2008, Big Girls Don’t Cry has gained itself a reputation as being one of the best Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tribute acts around. Despite the success of jukebox musical Jersey Boys and a recent tour by Valli himself, the tribute show is now in its tenth year of touring and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Big Girls Don’t Cry celebrates the hits of New Jersey’s finest. Authentically recreating the sounds of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the internationally famous East Coast Boys perform hits from the band’s extensive back catalogue including Sherry, December 1963 (Oh What a Night), Walk Like a Man, Rag Doll and My Eyes Adored You.
Bounding onto the stage in their sharp suits and slick, combed back hair, the East Coast Boys have clearly worked hard to imitate the band. Backed by a fabulous four piece band, they’ve not only mastered the New Jersey accent, the synchronised dance moves and glowing smiles of the iconic group, but also their close harmonies as they belt out hits like Beggin’, I’ve Got You Under My Skin and Who Loves You.
Those who are familiar with the Four Seasons back catalogue will know that it is Frankie Valli’s distinctive falsetto vocals which make them stand out from other groups in their era. Thankfully Lee Matthews has Valli’s extensive vocal range down to a tea with his falsetto performance on Let’s Hang On, Working My Way Back To You and Rag Doll as well as Valli’s solo hits like Grease and Can’t Get My Eyes Off You standing out as highlights.
Thomas Mitchells, Joseph Connell and Bradley Clarkson are equally superb as fellow Four Seasons members Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi, delivering their sublime close harmonies on tracks like Silhouettes, Silence is Golden and an acapella version of Blue Moon.
In between the hits, there is plenty of audience interaction with the group offering snippets of history about the group as well as light-hearted banter about the local amenities and accent. At one point, Nick Massi (Bradley Clarkson) leaves the stage to pick out ‘Marlena’, a lady from audience who is taken from the safety of her seat to be brought up to the stage. She’s not called Marlena, but it gives the group the opportunity to serenade her with the song of the same name, with hits like Dawn, C’mon Marianne and Sherry following after.
Yet, while for the most part, this is a polished performance, a couple of elements fall flat. A slip of the tongue regarding the area doesn’t go unnoticed by the audience. The decision to include Peanuts, a song originally performed by the Four Seasons under the name of The Wonder Who? also feels out of place among the other material and tries a little too hard to be comical.
That said, it isn’t long before the show is back on a high with Bye Bye Baby followed by mash-up of hits such as Stay, Lets Hang On, Walk Like a Man and December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night). A fun and fitting tribute to a legendary act.
Reviewed on 11 March 2018 | Image: Contributed