MusicalNorth WestReview

The Jersey Boys   Opera House, Manchester

Reviewer:  Anne Pritchard

Book: Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice

Music: Bob Gaudio

Lyrics: Bob Crewe

Director: Des McAnuff

‘Oh, What A Night!’ The successful, Four Season’s hit song superbly sums up this enjoyable production.

The Jersey Boys tells the story of four boys from New Jersey with dead-end lives who become one of America’s biggest pop music sensations of all time; they have a sound so distinctive that nobody had ever heard anything like before and fans couldn’t get enough of it. Their harmonies are perfect on stage, but off stage, it is a very different story. This production tells the story of The Four Seasons from start to finish, including the connections to criminal mob gangsters, the heavy debts, prison sentences and the band’s ultimate collapse.

This is a fantastic well-rounded show with a well-balanced mix of comedy and drama which pulls at the heartstrings whilst emphasising the influence and impact the quartet has on music to this day.

The story starts in 1950’s New Jersey with Ryan Heenan superbly taking lead role as Frankie Valli and Dalton Wood delivering a fantastic portrayal of Tommy DeVito; completing the quartet, Lewis Griffiths takes to the stage as Nick Massi and Blair Gibson portrays Bob Gaudio excellently.

Each member of the cast from leads to supporting roles, all have their time to shine in the limelight but indisputably the real star of the show is Heenan who is spot-on as Valli. Mastering his mixture of mannerisms and presence alike and never missing a note, sounding so much like the man himself; his rendition of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience.

All of The Four Season’s hits are included, such as ‘Sherry’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Oh What A Night’, ‘Bye Bye Baby’, Walk Like A Man’, ‘Let’s Hang On’ and ‘Working My Way Back To You’ which are enjoyed immensely by the audience whose heads nodding and toes tapping along throughout. Lesser known hits such as ‘Stay’, ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’ and ‘Silhouettes’ are also included.

Subtle backing music accompanies the more energetic scenes and the use of screen animation perfectly captures the success of the band with retro clips of American Bandstand and The Ed Sullivan Show; at one point the band have their backs to the audience revealing precisely what it was like for them to be on stage performing. With cameras flashing in the background and stage lights glaring, it gives a spellbinding insight showing how it must have been for the band performing on stage at the height of their career, from their perspective.

Choreography (Sergio Trujillo) and Costume (Jess Goldstein) are to be commended as they are perfect for each era throughout the show; everything about the production is superb, from the performers to the smooth roll-out of props.

The use of expletives throughout the show may not be to everyone’s taste, but it has to be remembered that this show depicts the real life of pop music writers and performers and should not be expected to be entirely family-friendly.

The show is a fantastic live performance. A must-see for Four Season’s fans and music-lovers alike.

Runs until 29 October 2022

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The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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