‘Oh what a night… late December 1963’ – one of the most well known Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tunes. But little did I know they had written some of my favourites from the 60s including “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”. This was all revealed to me in the 2018 production of Jersey Boys.
So yes I like 60s music. Yes I was definitely the youngest person in the audience. Yes I missed out on the nostalgia element that everyone else was there for. But the question is take that element away and is it still a good show? Or is judging the show without that element not fair?
Personally I didn’t experience the nostalgia element, having being born in 1997… so be aware of this when reading my review. However I’ve grown up surrounded by 60s music so I’m not completely adverse to it.
The first half an hour of the show was a shock to the senses. They sped through the first years of the groups life in a frantic 30 minutes filled with scene changes and rapid script delivery. This left me feeling frazzled and not knowing where I was or whose story I was watching.
Luckily things soon calmed down and the production fell into a good pace. The constant breaking of the fourth wall from each of the band members as they passed the narrator baton between them kept you close to the story. Although I may argue that it was overused and became a lazy form of storytelling as they relied on it heavily for key moments in the story.
Songs interspersed with the dialogue helped give the show some moments to breathe before the pace picked up again. These moments were obviously why people had bought the tickets as the audience hung on every word of each song, erupting in prolonged applause after each rendition. From ‘December 1963’, ‘Sherry’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ and ‘Walk Like a Man’ there was just hit after hit to be enjoyed from this production. As well as a few extra thrown in that you wouldn’t necessarily associated with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
I cannot fault this production on its execution. Everything was so slick, the scene changes, the dance moves, the staging, even the hair styles. They have nailed the concept of simple yet effective and applied it in most areas giving the production a 10/10 for professionalism.
I feel I can’t finish the review without mentioning the guys themselves. Frankie Valli (played by Michael Watson) may have been the name in lights but in this show it is understudy Peter Nash as Tommy DeVito that takes on the lead role. The four main guys I feel lacked the suave charisma that I wanted from a 60s band but I am told the characterisation was true to the real group.
The production fell a little flat in places and I feel it lacked texture overall. But if what you’re after is a big shot of nostalgia washed down with a healthy glug of sing-a-long fun then look no further.