Juke Box musicals often get shunned by the critics and particularly so in recent years with the fight to introduce new writing into the West End. With Mamma Mia in it's 14th year and We Will Rock You in it's 12th, there is proof there is a place in theatreland to celebrate music of the great bands. That is of course as long as the content matches in excellence - perhaps where recent Spice Girls musical Viva Forever fell.
Jersey Boys is definitely one of the shows that gets it just right. The story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons opened in 2005 on Broadway and at the Prince Edward Theatre, London in 2008 and still running in both of it's original homes.
This is a chronological biography of the boys rise to fame as The Four Seasons, a name in which they took from a bowling alley that turned them down from a job singing in the lounge. Each member of the group takes a turn in narrating a particular season. A young Frankie Vally soon becomes Valli for 'y' according to his wife is a bullsh*t letter. Their relationship is explored and laid bare ending with 'My Eyes Adored You' - sung from the heart by Ryan Molloy who's portrayal of Valli throughout is something of a spectacle itself. Capturing the spirit of Valli whilst retaining individuality this is no mimic but an expert and genius portrayal.
Tommy De Vito takes us through Spring and his early battles in and out of prison whilst developing a new singing group. Jon Boydon is excellent in the role, particularly gritty as his story develops and darkens racking up large debts with a loan shark. A sharp contrast to the nerdy Bob Gaudio (Edd Post) who is particularly comic towards the end of the first act in "December, 1963 (Oh What A Night)". Covering the role of Nick Massi in the absence of David McGranaghan is Mark Isherwood who makes the role of the bassist his own.
Edd Post, Ryan Molloy, Jon Boydon & David McGranaghan
"The Crowd Goes Wild" they say... and this isn't an exaggeration. Lengthy applause brought all action to a halt countless times after renditions of 'Walk Like A Man' and 'Working My Way Back To You'. There aren't so many theatrical "wow" moments in Jersey Boys - that's not what this show is. It isn't there to mesmerise you with grand and elaborate sets, nor does it have great big production numbers and show routines but it is a display of excellent vocals, an incredibly solid book which moves at perfect pace resulting in an enjoyable and interesting insight into the four Jersey boys.
Booking until 9th March 2014 at the Prince Edward Theatre (Book Here) after which the hugely anticipated return of Miss Saigon opens there and from 14th March 2014 Jersey Boys opens at the Piccadilly Theatre (Book Here).
(And they do nice programmes!!)