Last night, I saw Jersey boys at the Piccadilly Theatre in London’s west end. Jersey Boys is a musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, based around the music they are most famous for. It follows the formation of the band, their biggest hits and their eventual demise. Now I don’t know much about the music of the four seasons, and I had heard good reviews of the show and was looking forward to a fun night.
It took me a while to get into the musical. When it started I was slightly skeptical of it for some reason. The first half of the first act was quiet slow but had fast character development. The rhythm of the piece was quite odd, however I did like the narration of the story by the members of the four seasons. I thought the actors were very talented, Dayle Hodge, who played Frankie Valli, had a magnificent voice, just like the original Frankie. Simon Bailey, who played Tommy DeVito, was also very good. The whole cast had very strong Jersey accents, and portrayed the archetype of Jersey Italians very well. There is no doubt that the cast was talented, musically and theatrically.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the music for a musical. I like the music, don’t get me wrong. And there were a lot of numbers that I didn’t realise were by the Four seasons. My favourite song, and the reason I wanted to see the show, was ‘Oh What a Night) December 1964’. However I felt it lost its effect, as it was played three times throughout the musical, even though it was performed very well. I felt like it wasn’t so much a musical, more of a play with songs, but that is due to the music not being of musical genre, which is understandable. This is also aided by the fact the numbers weren’t portrayed as huge musical numbers like they may be in other productions. Because of this, I, personally think it would be better presented through a film.
The first thing you see is the set, nice and simplistic, with a raised platform at the back, which worked as an effective prison. The backdrops were really effective method to convey the location to the audience. The lighting was very good, dramatic and really clever. A scene I really appreciated, was when they were performing in a big stadium. To portray this, they removed the backdrop and revealed, I assume, a lighting board, to make it look like an audience, this was furthered by the frame of the stage, creating the effect that the audience were backstage, behind the group, looking out onto a huge stadium. The scene transitions were very slick, and clever. The use of multi-media was very effective. With comic style pictures projected onto the back of the stage, and videos of the 50s & 60s, showed the time period very well. There were a few technical hiccups with the microphones, but you can’t really blame them for that, microphones are fickle and temperamental. Overall technically it was a very good production
Overall, It’s not my favourite musical. It had good music, and it was fun to go to, but I felt very distant from the piece. That maybe due to the staging and where I was sitting, but I wasn’t engaged in the production. It didn’t have the same effect for me as ‘In the Heights’. With which, I was immediately engaged from the first number, and knew I was going to see something amazing. With Jersey boys, it was a bit of a slow burner. But it was a great night, and would recommend for someone who wants to see a musical, but doesn’t really like the cheesiness of musicals.