Oh what a night . . . multi-award-winning Jersey Boys has sold out every seat at Northampton’s Derngate and I know why.
The Broadway and West End musical has won 55 major awards worldwide and features hit upon hit by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Classic songs that are all instantly recogniseable and, for me, ones I never realised were hits from this group until last night. (I grew up in the 70s listening to Bye Bye Baby by the Bay City Rollers . . . no idea it was a cover!)
Let’s Hang On, My Eyes Adored You, Earth Angel, Sherry, Walk Like A Man, Beggin’, Stay, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Rag Doll, December 1963 (Oh What A Night), I’m in the Mood for Love, Working My Way Back to You, Big Girls Don’t Cry . . . the hits just keep coming, along with many more.
The brilliance of Jersey Boys is it cleverly interwines the hits with the tale of how four ordinary men from New Jersey became one of the biggest pop groups ever and how their friendships and romantic lives suffered along the way to the top.
It’s a gripping story of Mob connections, struggles to be heard, conflicts within the group (each member tells their version of events), life on tour and the true life tragedy of Frankie’s daughter, Francine.
The main set of a large metal staircase with stairs at either side is reminiscent of a West Side Story backdrop crossed with Chicago and it and props, which are wheeled on and off with rapid speed by the cast to change the stage, creates a never-ending place for the viewer to look at any moment.
At first it was hard to get used to the New Joi-sey accent and some of the lines passed over me and my friend, but once we got our ear in, it was easier to follow the storyline.
It’s the hits which will have you singing along and tapping your feet in the stalls though. And they were performed with super slick style by the amazing cast of multi-talented actors and musicians.
Matt Corner as Frankie Valli steals the limelight the moment he walks on to the set, singing, and never misses those unforgettable high notes. Lewis Griffiths, who plays Nick Massi, has the most beautiful, deep speaking voice that I could have listened to for hours, in the same way I could to someone like Richard Burton.
All the cast work fantastically together to create a show that deserves award after award. As someone said, when we were walking out of the auditorium: “That’s a show you could go and watch time and time again.” I couldn’t agree more and if you can only get a spare single seat, grab it and go alone.
If, like me, you weren’t a fan of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons before, I guarantee you will be after watching Jersey Boys.