A lot of juke box musicals fail spectacularly, trying too hard to fit songs to a story, or focusing on dull details in the history of a band.
Jersey Boys (the story of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons) on the other hand, manages to succeed.
The story is gritty: boys from the wrong side of the track (New Jersey), searching for a way out that isn’t the army or prison. Burglary, violence, sex and drugs – these boys don’t have it easy.
Yet between them they created an impressive collection of memorable songs. I’ve seen the show a few times and like it more every time; I still get a surge of excitement when a song I’d forgotten about is played.
Perhaps the feeling is mutual because the atmosphere is electric. The newly refurbished Trafalgar Theatre shows off Klara Zieglerova’s scenic design perfectly and the audience are primed and ready for a good time.
Directed by Des McAnuff, the new cast bring us the show we know and love with their own interpretation of each character. Ben Joyce is a loveable Frankie, while Benjamin Yates gives Tommy a roguish charm. Karl James Wilson’s Nick is brooding and expressive, with Adam Bailey bringing a softer side to the group as Bob Gaudio.
Performances from the whole cast are exceptional, cleverly capturing the emotion and era in both song and stage presence.
In fact, the songs just keep coming, from Big Girls Don’t Cry and Bye Bye Baby to Sherry and Can’t Take My Eyes off You; it’s almost impossible to sit quietly and not join in (and many give into temptation)!
With such an excitable audience who loved every second, surely nobody could resist smiling, clapping and cheering along with them.
A well-deserved standing ovation. Oh what a night!
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes