The award winning Musical “The Jersey Boys” has once again graced Sunderland with it’s presence and I, for one, am chuffed.
If you don’t already know, Jersey Boys is based on the true story of Franke Valli, Bob Gaudio, Nick Massi and Tommy DeVito. They form the infamous group, the Four Seasons in 1960’s New Jersey.
You may not know the story, but you’ll recognise songs like “sherry”, “big girls don’t cry” and “cant take my eyes off you” among many others.
You might expect a musical about a 1960’s singing quartet to be a bit quaint of cutesy, but this musical is far from it.
You learn about the Four Seasons ties with the mob, how multiple members spent time in jail and the fact that they had their “real families” and their on-the-road girlfriends – Scandalous!
The Central Character is Franke Valli himself played by Michael Pickering who I am so pleased to Learn is From Washington, County Durham on my door step. It was so lovely to see someone from your neck of the woods perform so well and be so successful. The Jersey Boys have been running for many years and a much loved classic among musical lovers. His voice was bewildering to say the least = I cant even believe those high notes exist, never mind anyone actually being able to hit them! He was singing for most of the two and a half hour show and his voice didn’t even quiver.
He played the character so well and I’m sure even Frankie would have been impressed.
The rest of The Four Seasons (Lewis Griffiths as Nick Massi, Blair Gibson as Bob Gaudio and Dalton Wood as Tommy De Vito) each brought such unique characterisation to the stage that it often feel like Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons- It was each of them respectfully.
Lewis Griffiths easily has the deepest voice I have ever heard which pierced its way through every song in the best way possible. Dalton Wood’s New Jersey accent was so authentic that you would never guess he’s from Yorkshire. And Blair Gibson was an instant favourite with his smooth-as-butter, boyish voice.
The production itself was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Throughout the show, different 1960’s pop art style illustrations were projected against the back wall to create a surreal and dream-like atmosphere that made the audience feel as though they were in side the minds of the characters as they recollected the memories. Something I don’t think would have worked well if we weren’t hearing from each character in their charming and personal narrations throughout.
We started off hearing about how the group was put together by Tommy DeVito, as he was the glue that held the group together-at the beginning at least. And then Bob Gaudio told us how he took the band and shook it up with his legendary song writing. Nick Massi then ran us through some of the more turbulent times in their joint career, with Frankie Valli bringing it all together at the end and letting us in on how each member of the group’s life unfolded after The Four Seasons.
The show not only gave a very personal insight into this notorious group – it also made you love them and listen to their music on repeat all over again. Well at least it did for me.
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