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Jersey Boys

Norwich Theatre Royal

I want to say so much about Jersey Boys – but unlike a gig review, doing so could spoil your enjoyment, if you are one of the many people in the region who have bought tickets to see the show at Norwich Theatre Royal.  If you’ve not got yours yet I should warn you there are not many left.

What’s to spoil? I hear you ask. We know all the songs, we know all the words.  As do I.  But what I didn’t know was the story.  OK, so this is but a dramatisation of the events surrounding the formation and break-up of The Four Seasons, rather than an historically accurate documentary.  Writers Brickman & Elice will have employed some poetic licence along the way.  I particularly liked the comment on the letter Y – “it’s a bullshit letter, doesn’t know if it’s a vowel or a consonant”.

If I am honest, to begin with I was underwhelmed by the show, forgetting that, in the beginning the band were unknown and the initial low-key performances were in fact a theatrical device laying the way to belting you in the face with their first hit ‘Sherry’.  Whether or not a cheesy John Payne western was the inspiration for ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ is irrelevant, it sets the song in time and is one hell of an introduction!

All of the cast produce faultless performances, none more so that the four principles.  Michael Watson (as Frankie) is totally believable as the innocent one with a strong sense of honour.  Simon Bailey (as Tommy DeVito) has that air of untrustworthiness about him, and his less than honourable deals.  Stephen O’Riain (Bob Gaudio) is the aloof writer who really doesn’t want to be on stage, a difficult thing to pull off as he obviously does enjoy being on stage.  Then there is Lewis Griffiths as Nick Massi – this month’s Grapevine CoverSTAR and our most recent interviewee (click here).  He told me when we chatted that he never gets bored with the show, it shows!

Lewis also told me that he fantasises about playing James Bond… well, just before the show I overheard a woman who was reading her programme say “…doesn’t he remind you of that Bond actor… a young Pierce what’s his name…?”   Eh – if you are reading this Danny Boyle…..

Quite apart from the music, the choreography was a joy to watch as the four strutted about the stage throwing shapes – how there wasn’t an accident with a guitar neck was a wonder.  For it is not just a cast of four, but of almost twenty, who bring together this rags to riches to rags story.

The songs are timeless ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ had teary eyed coupes of all ages sneaking each other glances around the auditorium.  This show made its debut fourteen years ago.  That it is still going strong is a testament to the songs, the production and the story.

Those are just my thoughts, everybody remembers it how they need to.

Jersey Boys runs until Sat 16th June at Norwich Theatre Royal – some tickets are still available, click here.