West End Theatre Guide London
Jersey Boys tells the story of The Four Seasons. The musical was the idea of Bob Gaudio, one of the original Four Seasons. Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman are the writers and Des McAnuff is the director. Brickman suggested the musical should tell the story of the band’s history.
It begins with Tommy DeVito, who brings Frankie Castelluccio (soon to be Frankie Valli) under his wing. Frankie is taught to sing by Nick Massi, and the trio form a group. However, trios are no longer ‘in’ so the band search for a fourth member. Joe Pesci introduces Bob Gaudio, a songwriter who had previously had a hit with ‘Short Shorts’, and Tommy reluctantly allows Gaudio into the group. They start their journey first as backing singers and then touring, after numerous hits, and the story is a rollercoaster of emotions.
The music is fantastic, with famous songs such as ‘Sherrie’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Walk Like A Man’, ‘December ’63 (Oh What A Night)’ and ‘C’mon Marianne’. There are some very tender and emotional moments in the show, such as ‘My Eyes Adore You’ when Frankie Valli’s first marriage to Mary Delgado breaks down.
Frankie Valli, at this performance, was played by Sandy Moffat (Rock of Ages, Dirty Dancing, We Will Rock You), who is the understudy, with Michael Watson (Imagine This, Sister Act, Shrek the Musical) playing the role full-time. Moffat’s Valli was fantastic. His voice is perfect and he manages Frankie Valli’s iconic falsetto with ease. ‘Can’t Take My Eyes off You’ is Valli’s solo song, which Moffat performs beautifully, and ‘Fallen Angel’ is another very tender and also extremely sad moment of the show, after Frankie’s daughter, Francine, is killed.
Jon Boydon’s (Rocky Horror Show, Grease, We Will Rock You) portrayal of Tommy DeVito was excellent. DeVito gets the band into almost one million dollars of debt, but they make allowances for him for a time because he was the one who discovered Frankie’s talent and got the band’s gigs organised. Eventually though, the debts lead to the break-up of the original line-up.
Nick Massi (A Chorus Line, Mamma Mia, Hair), the bass player in The Four Seasons, is played by Gary Watson. Massi is a quiet individual and is always, comically, threatening to start his own band. When the size of the debts came to light, Massi decides to leave the band to spend time with his kids (who believe him to be their uncle, not father).
The band’s songwriter, Bob Gaudio, was played, at this performance, by Chris Stoddart (Evita, Cinderella, Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), the understudy, with Edd Post (We Will Rock You, West Side Story) playing the role full-time. Gaudio plays a very important role in the Four Seasons’s journey because his music produced countless hits, and he formed the early partnership with Valli, bound by a ‘Jersey handshake’.
Bob Crewe gives the band their recording contract and helps them get their music played. Crewe is played by Simon Adkins (Singin’ In The Rain, Gotta Sing Gotta Dance, Cats), who portrays the role very well, making the character very flamboyant and likeable.
The four harmonise perfectly and take turns narrating the show, giving the story of events from their points of view. The show reveals a lot of information about how the music was released and how close the music was to not being released at all (particularly ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’).
The story is a rocky one, with the band facing many challenges, changes and setbacks. The show starts off slowly and then explodes into life, which reflects what happened to the Four Seasons in real-life. It is captivating in every way and it is impossible to exit the theatre without a smile.