Theatre Review: JERSEY BOYS – Opera House, Manchester

JERSEY BOYS Musical

Four guys, four stories, one unforgettable musical, JERSEY BOYS certainly lives up to the hype

West End and Broadway extravaganza JERSEY BOYS tells the remarkable tale of four ordinary boys from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey who went on to sell 100 million records worldwide.

Frankie Valli, Tommy De Vito, Nick Massi and Bob Gaudio take us on a feel-good ride through the trials and tribulations of their lives as they write their own songs, create their own unique sounds and climb to the top to become a world-class sensation.

The show opens with an unexpected bold and flashy French rap song before shortly introducing us to Tommy De Vito, played by understudy Peter Nash, with his strong New Jersey accent and even stronger jawline. The fast-paced story line quickly puts us up-to-date with the mob lifestyle and the boys who are living in between the ‘neighbourhood’ and prison, giving us the first hint of  Tommy’s bad boy demeanour, which although witty and attractive, is sure to bring about some trouble.

In between Tommy’s narrative and the catchy first few numbers, the very mysterious and gruff Nick Massi, played by Lewis Griffiths, also comes to life on stage and what’s not to love? He’s tall, quiet and mysterious, and has the bass voice that sets every song into motion.

The only thing better than his voice, however, is Frankie Valli’s, played by Michael Watson. ‘Big girls don’t cry’ but we certainly could have. Watson’s voice, with a falsetto stronger than his modal voice, is the pinnacle of the show, his first solo, in particular, silencing the room by taking everyone’s breath away and giving a chill down the spine. The height of his voice only grew stronger and more pronounced with each song and with the addition of the final band member Bob Gaudio, played by Declan Egan, the audience was not only singing along and clapping, but cheering at the end of each song as if it were a live concert.

JERSEY BOYS

Here, all of the boys not only create a sound worth remembering but dance with such flair and finesse, that their short, quick-step movements create a real-time setting of the 1960s. The showstopper scene however is Frankie Valli’s CAN’T TAKE MY EYES OFF YOU which comes in the second act after an unfortunate and tense breakup of the band sends Bob and Frankie into a partnership. This song, Watson’s vocals and the musical accompaniment by far emulates any song in the show and is considerably better the original.

Whilst I would have liked to see a little more emotion in the scene when Frankie finds out of his daughter’s death scene, it isn’t a main turning point in the production and can, therefore, be allowed to let slide. In fact, JERSEY BOYS more than exceeded expectations. Add in hits including BEGGIN’, SHERRY, WALK LIKE A MAN, DECEMBER 1963 (OH WHAT A NIGHT) and BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY and this is a definite five-star production that I would be more than happy to pay to see again.

(5 / 5)

JERSEY BOYS runs at Manchester’s Opera House until 16 February 2019