Music: Bob Gaudio
Lyrics: Bob Crewe
Book: Marshall Brickman &Rick Elice
Director: Des Mcanuff
Reviewer: Lauren Maughan
As soon as you hear that falsetto, the voice is unmistakably that of Frankie Valli. You don’t have to be a music mogul to know that his sound is unforgettable. Never has there been a singer like him, and there probably won’t be one again. But there’s some very good impersonators out there and the cast of Jersey Boys at the Liverpool Empire don’t disappoint to pay tribute to Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.
Tim Driesen takes the lead as Frankie and he does it well. His renditions of the hits are impeccable, and the show gets better and better the more hits the crowd hears. It’s on the popular numbers of ‘Sherry’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ and ‘Walk Like a Man’ where he really comes into his own and shows to the crowd his singing talents.
With innocent song titles like the ones above, you’d think these four boys were a clean cut band from the 1960s, but how wrong we would be. Told through the eyes of each member of the band, or each ‘Season’, the show tells us the road to stardom has a big price to pay. Jersey Boys has got it all. From hit songs, to dealings with the mafia, money troubles and the girls. Jersey Boys shows us the true side to Rock n’ Roll.Kicking off in 1960s, the show takes us on a trip down memory lane and re-enacts how the free spirits blend together to become one of the most successful bands of all time.
Getting off to a shaky start, it was hard to understand the American tones of Stephen Webb (Tommy Devito). Whether the background music was too loud for his monologues or it’s just a matter of getting used to the strong accent, it’s hard to say. Nevertheless, Webb plays the unlikeable character well – he’s someone who likes to think of himself as the leader of the group, who’s a bit rough around the edges and as someone who runs into plenty of trouble with the police.
The staging is simple, yet it works. The set takes us from New Jersey to bars and clubs around America, hotel rooms and even places to do dodgy dealings. The actors make great use of the stage and portray the rise and fall of the Seasons and the price fame can bring. A highlight was the clever direction of their live TV show appearances, filmed back onto the main screen. The lighting also worked well, and reflected the highs and lows of the story – when the boys were having success the stage is well lit, and during harder times the mood was definitely more solemn.
Even though on the night it wasn’t the original cast with Dan Krikler standing in for Sam Ferriday to play Bob Gaudio, the audience didn’t seem to know the difference. Lewis Griffiths’ portrayal of Nick Masai is great. His witty one liners and bassist tones brings comedy and the audience roars with laughter at his one liners.
Jersey Boys is hit after hit, after hit. There isn’t a musical number which feels flat, or downbeat – they’re all crowd pleasers. And with a back catalogue of songs that didn’t quite make it, it just shows how successful these four boys from Jersey were. ‘Cry For Me’ is a stand out performance from the band and is the point in the show where you know the Seasons are onto a winner with the final make-up of the group; it’s also when the first half of the show comes into its own. ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’, ‘December 1963 (Oh What a Night)’ and Driesen’s emotional performance of ‘My Eyes Adored You’ are other moments of the show that are hard to forget.
On for another week, you’ve still got chance to catch the boys in action. And you won’t be disappointed. Oh what a night you’ll have and you’ll be trying to hit the famous Fankie high notes all the way home.
Runs until 4th July 2015