Wednesday 27th July 2022 at Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House.
Jersey Boys is ultimately a cracking hit parade celebrating one of the best singing groups of the 1960’s: The Four Seasons. It’s a lively, sharply delivered show which offers comedy and drama as bookends to a fantastic catalogue of toe tapping classics.
We follow the story of the founding members of The Four Seasons as they move between chequered younger years in Jersey, hunger for success as their “sound” gains traction, right through to fallouts and the inevitable reunion. Through members coming and going, relationships blossoming and withering and from the highest of highs to lowest of lows, Jersey Boys covers a lot of ground. Under direction of Des McAnuff, it does so with style and at impressive pace with an incredible sense of precision – particularly when it comes to Sergio Trujillo’s superb choreography which captures the iconic synchronised movement of 1960’s crooners to perfection.
The current cast are a brilliant, talented bunch who deliver Bob Gaudio’s music and Bob Crewe’s lyrics with all the energy, charm and vocal power needed and then some. Expect fabulous renditions of (among a great many others) “Sherry”, “Walk Like a Man” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” certain to stay with you for the journey home and beyond…
Aside from the musical performances, this cast lean notably a little more towards the drama of Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s book compared to the 2018 production I saw previously – the comedy has its place and it’s well landed, but this cast land the drama more readily which I think gives the story a slightly different, more sympathetic angle – in between all the up-beat hits that is.
Lewis Griffiths brings a great combination of comedy and gravitas as bass player Nick Massi while Blair Gibson brings a squeaky clean presence with a good dose of respectability as hit songwriter Bob Gaudio. Dalton Wood gives a great Godfather audition as Tommy DeVito, complete with the unmistakeable drawl and swagger of a man who does what he needs to do to hustle his way through life, capiche? Completing – and leading the group as the case may be, Michael Pickering is a likeable, loyal Frankie Valli who in life has two feet firmly planted on the ground even though on stage, his astonishing vocals lift him to the rafters and beyond.
The ensemble are also at the top of their game – whether centre stage or wiping a bar bench down on the periphery, their presence and impeccable timing are a constant. Of particular note is the talented trio who take on a carousel of all female roles: Ellie Seaton, Daisy Steere and Emma Crossley – who also gives one of the best and most fiery dramatic performances as Mary Delgado.
Scenic design by Klara Zieglerova whisks us between locations with statement set pieces flown in and out by the second while Howell Binkley’s lighting picks up the shifting locations just as well as the shifting tones of the story as it’s told. Completing the line up of excellent stage design is Jess Goldstein’s parade of sharp stagey suits, making the group look every bit the music superstars of the day.
For many, Jersey Boys will be a fantastic night of nostalgia and great music. For others, it will be a lively education about a golden era of singing groups with more style than most could wish for. For most though, quite apart from the opportunity to hear such a fantastic back catalogue live, Jersey Boys will prove a thoroughly entertaining, impressively well crafted show well worth the trip.
Jersey Boys plays Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House until August 6th 2022 – you can find your tickets here.