Jersey Boys – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

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

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An amateur-feeling production of the West End hit

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The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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  1. Just been to Jersey Boys Kings Theatre Glasgow Thursday Matinee which ended with a standing ovation . . Need I say more. ‘Frankie’ and chums made it great and both laughing and crying we loved it. Thank You will be going again *****

  2. I was there on press night (Wed 4/4) and having read the story, watched the movie and seen the New York show wondered if it could live up to my expectations and I can say I wasn’t disappointed. I honestly have to say all the performers were exceptional however Dayle Hodge as Valli was truly first class, his voice is something else. It was so good I booked for Thur 5th and took my 16 year old daughter who not knowing anything about it other than my horrendous singing to the soundtrack enjoyed it immensely and said she would go see it again. I was doubtful at the change in Valli to James Gibbs however I was not to be disappointed as Gibbs was amazing and the entire audience agreed..standing ovation. Simon Bailey, Declan Egan and Lewis Griffiths bond so well with Gibbs and Hodge you could be mistaken in thinking they grew up together. A fantastic show not to be missed, can’t wait to see it again on the final night.

  3. I have just been to the Friday night show of the jersey boys which was sadly halted part way through due to a bunch of chavvy idiots fighting in the circle…disgraceful behaviour and this is not the first time I have been to the kings theatre and had to see drunken idiotic behaviour…the theatre management need to stop this. If people are clearly under the influence and loud then stop them coming in. The show was good but for me the volume needed to come up. I sat in the grand circle front row and struggled to really hear properly in parts so the musical talents and story was somewhat lost. And no I am not normally hard of hearing. I did however enjoy the show

  4. Excellent show at the kings performers where fantastic. The only negative for me was the bad language throughout . I’m sure the show would have been just as good minus the swearing.

  5. Went to see jersey boys at kings glasgow on friday 13 th april. All i can say it was fabulous from beginning to end i only wish i had went early in the month then i could have went back for more. 5 star entertainment everyone on the night i was there well sining clapping and dancing all night. A big thankyou to all the cast and crew.

  6. Agree with Gen,time Kings Theatre staff stopped serving drinks to people already under the influence. We went on last night same story woman talking and laughing all the way through, so come on Kings staff, tell them to shut up or show them the door.

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