After closing its doors at London’s Piccadilly Theatre back in March of 2017 after 9 glorious years (and 11 years on Broadway) fans and theatregoers alike were “Beggin’” for the return of one-of-a-kind musical biopic of one of the greatest bands from the golden age of American rock-n-roll. Finally, after over four years the show has made its return, diected by Des McAnuff, now playing at the gorgeously renovated Trafalgar Theatre, and my was it triumphant!
On entering the theatre, audiences are greeted by what first appears to be Klara Zieglerova’s very simple set. The stage is pretty much empty apart from two winding metal staircases that connect with a walkway across the middle. It looks very sleek, and the simplicity is what enables audiences to be transported back to Belleville, New Jersey circa 1950 and all the places that leads…from prison to a recording studio (complete with a working intercom and recording booth) to ultimately the great Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
The props and staging team do an amazing job to achieve this, aided by a screen hidden at the top of the stage which projects Michael Clark’s images in an of the period pop art style. The speed at which scenes are changed is nothing short of perfection and for sure needs some recognition.
The show itself is split into four sections labelled, as one would expect, after the four seasons starting off with the early days in ‘Spring’ where the ‘Variety Trio’ were just starting out with members Tommy DeVito (Benjamin Yates), Nick Massi (Karl James Wilson) and the ill-fated Nick DeVito (played by the sensational Mark Isherwood who then goes on to play a vast array of different roles) and their rising star Frankie Castelluccio (later Valli – played by Ben Joyce in his West End debut) to ‘Summer’ in the groups heyday where they become the infamous Four Seasons after finding Bob Gaudio (Adam Bailey) and go on to take the world by storm…that is until it all starts to fall apart in ‘Fall’ and ‘Winter’.
Each season is narrated by a different member of the Four Seasons which really helps to give perspective on how each of them viewed the band and how they tell the story, as in the words of Tommy DeVito ‘everyone remembers it the way they need to, right?’. The four principle cast members, who were wonderful, and their portrayal of the characters (Tommy, Frankie, Nick and Bob) was well thought out all the way down to the facial expressions – the dynamic between them felt so real and raw which made the unfolding drama all the more exciting and it places heart-breaking to watch.
To top it all off, they were all visibly enjoying themselves which made it all the better to watch and the vocals and the dancing was so in-sync (so breath-taking and so difficult to achieve) not to mention Ben Joyce‘s impressive moves during Valli’s solo career – as an avid fan of the show I forgot how well Frankie could dance! Another stand out cast member was Matteo Johnson as Joe Pesci who had the whole audience in stitches from the moment he walked on stage.
After the darkest eighteen or so months for the West End, theatre is back where it belongs! Many shows, both new and old, are making a comeback so it may be hard to decide what to see first. With a soundtrack that sold a hundred million records, a sensational principle cast plus perhaps one of the greatest, most diverse ensembles (with members embodying a rotating cast of characters) I have ever seen and a fast paced story with sensational highs but also hard-hitting and devastating lows and high intensity drama in between, the much anticipated revival of Jersey Boys is definitely a hot ticket right now and a show people truly must see! After all, where would music be without the hard work of four young men and their humble beginnings in New Jersey all those years ago?