by Sue Roberts
From the opening present-day rap version of Oh What A Night to the can’t-get-that-song-out- of-my-head ‘Walk Like A Man’, the cast of Jersey Boys delivered a spectacular and entertaining performance.
Based on their real lives, the show tells the story of four ordinary men from New Jersey who became an extraordinary pop group.
Their life stories were told in a mainly narrative style with each member giving monologues on their perspective of events – happy, sad, financially disastrous. This was interspersed with their most famous tracks, including Big Girls Don’t Cry, Beggin’, Oh What A Night, Rag Doll and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.
You’ll be surprised at how many of their songs you didn’t know you knew! The four lead performers were Michael Watson as Frankie Valli (real name Frankie Castelluccio), Simon Bailey as Tommy Devito, Declan Egan as Bob Gaudio (the group’s main songwriter) and Lewis Griffiths as Nick Massi.
Michael Watson’s vocal range was superb, emulating Frankie himself brilliantly with his unique falsetto voice, supported by strong vocal performances from the other three and superb musical accompaniment directed by Francis Goodhand.
The set was simple but very effective, changing seamlessly from one scene to another with props gliding across the stage effortlessly and seemingly of their own accord!
The final rendition of Who Loves You? had the audience on their feet clapping and dancing, ending with a standing ovation. Whether you are a Four Seasons fan or not, if you’re looking for an evening of pure entertainment, full of toe-tapping familiar songs this is the show for you.
As the real Bob Gaudio himself remarked on the pleasure of seeing Jersey Boys come to life: “How much better does it get than to see your life pass before you, with a 20-minute intermission, and never have to break a sweat?”
Jersey Boys is on at New Theatre, Oxford until Sunday 6 January. Tickets available from www.atgtickets.com