Jersey Boys

October 11, 2014 | By | Reply More

✭✭✭✭✩   Entertaining and engaging

Edinburgh Playhouse 8 – 25 October 2014

The music that inspired a generation thrills the Playhouse stage, as director Des McAnuff showcases the rise to fame of four young men from New Jersey, America.

Lewis Griffiths, Tim Driesen, Sam Ferriday, and Stephen Webb. Photo: Helen Maybanks

Lewis Griffiths, Tim Driesen, Sam Ferriday, and Stephen Webb. Photo: Helen Maybanks

This is the story of the Jersey Boys, The Four Lovers, The Royal Teens or, as they are perhaps most well known, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

The show explodes onto the stage with a remastered 2000 cover version of Oh What a Night by French rapper, Yannick. It’s an abrupt and unexpected start, and there’s a feeling of relief when Stephen Webb takes over as Tommy DeVito. Tommy transports the show back to the 1950s when he offered Valli (ne Castelluccio) his first break – a guest spot singing with his then band, the Variety Trio.

Over the next two hours, the show delivers a whirlwind tour of the formation of the Four Seasons, their trials and tribulations, and ultimately their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

The opening sections feel somewhat rushed. There’s a lot packed into the first twenty minutes, with the complex intricacies of the band’s formation and the early hits shoehorned into a tight space. However, a structure soon emerges as the musical is divided into it’s own four seasons, with each part narrated by a member of the band.

the biggest star is the music

The interplay of narration and character interaction is nicely sequenced, creating an entertaining production that doesn’t take itself too seriously. From quips about Vivaldi to subtle plays on words, the humour in the production is highly entertaining; the high energy of the cast is inspiring; and the all-too real human interactions are engaging.

Sam Ferriday Stephen Webb Tim Driesen and Lewis Griffiths. Photo: Helen Maybanks

Sam Ferriday, Stephen Webb, Tim Driesen and Lewis Griffiths. Photo: Helen Maybanks

As expected, the biggest star is the music and the cast certainly do it justice.

The vocal performances cannot be faulted. Tim Driesen as Frankie Valli and Lewis Griffiths as Nick Massi in particular give both wonderful and impressive accounts of themselves while showcasing some startlingly contrasting ranges. The characterisation in the musical numbers is expressive, too, and provides a strong tribute to the music the Jersey Boys created.

However, with a few notable exceptions, the acting segments in the first act – slotted in between the crowd-pleasing numbers – seem a little stiff and flat. Which can be forgiven, given the amount packed in to the first half – and the considerable focus on the quality of the musical performances. By the second act though, the pace slows considerably and the actors seem to settle in their roles.

There are plenty of strong performances. Matt Gillett is delightfully ruthless as record producer and label manager Bob Crewe, and Lewis Griffiths as Nick Massi – the self confessed ‘Ringo’ of the group – is worthy of note. Sam Ferriday also delivers a convincing performance as Bob Gaudio, a man never comfortable on stage or in the limelight.

The multi-functioning and at times visually striking set provides nuggets of context throughout. Which helps the atmosphere build to ensure it all ends on a high note.

On the whole, an entertaining and engaging production that delivers hit after hit as it provides insight into the complex human emotions and interactions of an ever-evolving band.

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (including interval)
Edinburgh Playhouse, 18 – 22 Greenside Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3AA
Wednesday 8 – Saturday 25 October 2014
Daily (not Sun) 7.30pm; Weds 19/Thurs, Sat: 2.30pm.
Full details and tickets on the Playhouse website: www.atgtickets.com

Jersey Boys UK Tour:

8 – 25 Oct Edinburgh
Playhouse
0844 871 3014 Book online
28 Oct – 8 Nov Stoke
Regent Theatre
0844 871 7649 Book online
11 – 22 Nov Hull
New Theatre
01482 300 300 Book online
25 Nov – 6 Dec Sunderland
Empire
0844 871 3022 Book online
9 Dec 2014 – 3 Jan 2015 Birmingham
New Alexandra
0844 871 3011 Book online
2015 tour:
20 – 31 Jan 2015 Canterbury
Marlowe
01227 787787 Book online
3 – 14 Feb 2015 Milton Keynes
Theatre
0844 871 7652 Book online
17 – 28 Feb 2015 Southend
Cliffs Pavilion
01702 351135 Book online
3 – 14 Mar 2015 Aberdeen
His Majesty’s Theatre
0845 270 8200 Book online
17 – 28 Mar 2015 Woking
New Victoria
0844 871 7645 Book online
1 – 18 Apr 2015 Dublin
0844 847 2455
Bord Gais Energy Theatre Book online
28 Apr – 9 May 2015 Bradford
Alhambra Theatre
01274 432000 Book online
12 – 23 May 2015 Oxford
New Theatre
0844 871 3020 Book online
26 May – 13 Jun 2015 Bristol
Hippodrome
0844 871 3012 Book online

ENDS

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