Feb 19-Mar 2, 2019
Stagecraft: Book: Performance:
The Edinburgh Playhouse, 2019, let the games begin! I was one of an almost full house for this one, tho’ admittedly I knew very little about what I was going to see. I like it that way, keeps an unbiased mind free to review. But now I am biased, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons are wicked! The true test of a musical is to be humming & the whistling & singing snatches of half-remembered lyrics, constantly seeing after seeing the show. Yes, that’s what happened with Jersey Boys – their tunes are proper cheeky, proper fun – while I’m Working My Way Back to you girl is on my tongue as I type.
“Trios are out, quartets are in.”
For me Jersey Boys was of course, top-notch entertainment, but it was more, much more, it was an education into Jerseybeat – a unique corner of 60s pop music obscured the British devotion to The Beatles etc. But OMG, Franki Valli & his boys have a wonderful oeuvre of classic tunes, they kept coming like rainbows on the Gulf Stream & a cool biopic to back ’em up. This biopic, then, was slick, snappy, & based upon interviews with the four lads themselves. “How much better does it get,” remark’d the bands main hit-writer, Bob Gaudio, “than to see your life pass before you, with a twenty-minute intermission, & never having to break sweat?”
In the hands of the four brilliant gallants on stage before us – Michael Watson (Frankie), Simon Bailey (Tommy DeVito), Declan Egan (Bob Gaudio) & Nick Massi (Dayle Hodge) – we were completely & relentlessly immured in the reality of the Four Seasons, so amazing were the performance levels. Band tensions bristl’d with energy; Mobsters meandered in & out of the action, as did the young Joe Peschi thirty years before his oscar; genuine streetwise New Jersey gags bubbl’d with comedy, & the music, the music was bangin.’
To hear the original songs sung with such precision is what you want from such a genre, & of the many I’ve seen in recent years, it feels like Jersey Boys is the best!
Damian Beeson Bullen