Jersey Boys is a critically acclaimed jukebox musical that traces the remarkable journey of the iconic 1960s rock ‘n’ roll group, The Four Seasons. With a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe, the show made its debut on Broadway in 2005. Based on the real-life experiences of the band members, the musical takes the audience on an enthralling ride through the highs and lows of their personal lives and their rise to fame. With its compelling storytelling and the timeless hits of The Four Seasons, Jersey Boys quickly garnered widespread praise and commercial success. The Broadway production received numerous accolades, including four Tony Awards. It also found success in the West End, where it opened in 2008 and went on to win the Olivier Award for Best New Musical. The show’s triumph on both sides of the pond sparked interest worldwide, leading to numerous international productions that captivated audiences across the globe. As Jersey Boys continues to play at Trafalgar Theatre, we welcome a new cast and are reminded of the musical’s lasting impression- celebrating the enduring legacy of The Four Seasons and their timeless music.
They were just four guys from Jersey, until they sang their very first note. They had a sound nobody had ever heard and the radio just couldn’t get enough of. But while their harmonies were perfect on stage, off stage it was a very different story- a story that has made them an international sensation all over again. Jersey Boys goes behind the music and inside the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons featuring hits such as Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like A Man, Sherry and December, 1963 (Oh What A Night). From the streets of New Jersey to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this is a musical phenomenon that’s just too good to be true!
Des McAnuff directs a new cast of Jersey Boys featuring Luke Suri (Production Vocalist for Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Oceania Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line) making his West End debut as Frankie Valli, Karl James Wilson (Jersey Boys UK Tour, Dirty Dancing, Beauty and the Beast) as Nick Massi, Peter Nash (Singin’ In The Rain, Jersey Boys Norwegian Bliss Cruise Line, Evita) as Tommy De Vito and Declan Egan (Mikado, Rocky Horror Show European Tour, The Book of Mormon US Tour) as Bob Gaudio. Joining them are Joey Cornish making his West End debut as Joey Pesci, Joseph Peters (Potted Panto, Friends The Musical Parody, California Suite) as Bob Crewe and Others, Andy Barke (Pretty Women, Annie, Nativity! The Musical ) as Gyp Decarlo, Oliver Tester (My Fairy Lady, Funny Girl, Evita) as Norm Waxman/Hank, Jacob Mcintosh (The Book of Mormon, Beautiful The Carole King Musical, Kinky Boots) as Barry Belson, Rosie Needham (Kinky Boots, The Marvelous Wonderettes, Legally Blonde) as Francine and Others, Kirsty Whelan (Red Riding Hood, Evita, Eugenius) as Mary Delgardo and Gracie Lai (Bonnie & Clyde, Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, Sugar Coat) as Lorraine and Others.
The Four Seasons and our Jersey Boys are all performed excellently. Each narrating the show at different points, Luke Suri, Karl James Wilson, Peter Nash and Declan Egan are consummate triple threat performers as they deliver stirring individual characters, tight lighting-quick choreography and come together with undeniable energy to display powerful inspiring vocals. Karl James Wilson gives an impressive performance as the quieter Nick Massi. Enjoying one-liners during act one and then narrating towards the end, Wilson shines as the more level-headed Jersey Boy. Causing all the drama and leading the narration from the top of the show is Peter Nash as Tommy De Vito. Both group founder and villain of the piece, Nash explores the hard shell of De Vito and deliverers an exceptionally strong performance throughout.
Declan Egan gives a brilliant performance as the young Bob Gaudio. Instantly likable and vocally stunning, Egan performs with a natural ease which has immediate effects on his audience. As our “voice of an angel” Frankie Valli, Luke Suri is phenomenal. Leading the Four Seasons, Suri’s strong falsetto vocal and energetic performance was nothing short of inspiring. Both Egan and Suri deliver outstanding performances. Ranging from their character’s younger selves to their later years, it’s incredibly exciting to see these young actors deliver polished, nuanced and character-driven performances on a West End stage. Bravo!
One of the earlier jukebox musicals, book writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice have crafted a show that feels natural. Having the Boys narrate, gives the show a documentary feel and due to this, the songs flow naturally and don’t seem shoe-horned in like other musicals of the same genre. Director Des McAnuff and Set Designer Klara Zieglerova have created a show that’s slick, fast-paced and feels the perfect size in the Trafalgar Theatre. Steve Canyon Kennedy’s Sound Design is stirring and Howell Binley’s Lighting Design is captivating. While Michael Clark’s projection design proved effective to enact scene and setting changes, I found the Neo-Dada/Pop Art stills throughout to be distracting and unnecessary. Having aged footage of Ed Sullivan one second and then picture clear live footage of the cast appearing on Ed’s show the next, seemed a missed design opportunity and took you out of an otherwise incredibly exciting moment for the Boys.
With a captivating behind-the-scenes story, exceptional performances and music that will have your toes tapping, this new cast of Jersey Boys at Trafalgar Theatre will leave you awestruck. As jukebox musicals go, Jersey Boys is up there with the best and its universal themes of friendship, determination and the pursuit of dreams give it an enduring charm that has easily enthralled audiences around the world. If you haven’t seen the show before or are a returning fan, get yourself down to Trafalgar Theatre for a perfect night out.
Reviewed by Stuart James