Skip to main content

Review of Jersey Boys at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

It's still early but with Jersey Boys, I have already seen a strong contender for one of my picks of the year. It helps perhaps that I have long been a fan of its subject matter, the incredible Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. However being a fan is far from a requirement to enjoy this quite incredible show. There is surely not anyone out there that could not garner some amount of joy from songs like Sherry and Walk Like Man. If however there is someone of that persuasion, Jersey Boys also brings a wonderful recreation of the gritty story of the creation of the musical legends that you might love, or if not a theatre production of vast production values. This all comes together to create quite a spectacle.

The early part of the play is told through the eyes of Tommy DeVito, one of a trio with his two brothers. Playing DeVito with a toughness and more than an edge of self imposed superiority is Stephen Webb, and he successfully carries the story along with his pieces to the audience. DeVito is the creator of what we finally see become The Four Seasons, complete with his forcing the then Frankie Castelluccio towards the microphone to perform I Can't Give Anything But LoveCastelluccio is of course later to become Valli (with a I and not a Y to keep that Italian heritage) and is played very impressively by Matt Corner. He somehow manages to have Valli's range and as eventual group member and writer Bob Gaudio (Sam Ferriday) states he has "never heard a voice like Frankie Valli's", this for anyone to attempt to imitate is quite an achievement and Corner is up to the task.

Ferriday depicts the innocent youthful Gaudio with subtle innocence and the scene featuring December 1963 (Oh What A Night) provides a playful full interpretation of the lyrics in question as Gaudio has his first "experience" of adult life. Completing the original line-up is the incredibly deep voiced Lewis Griffiths as Nick Massi. He successfully swerves through both the comic parts of his constant plans of going of to form his own group to that impactful scene when certain debts are exposed.

While this show is all about the main four there is wonderful support from the rest of the exceptional cast. Joel Elfernick is suitably camp as Bob Crewe, while Damian Buhagiar is an excellent lively young Joe Pesci. Also an exceptional draw whenever on stage was Nathaniel Morrison as Barry and a number of other characters including a childlike police officer.

The musical numbers are where the meat of this show is of course, and they are exceptionally well performed, complete with that distinctive movement. The music coming from the ten piece orchestra, cleverly wheeled on and off the stage at required moments is also superb.

Set changes are one of the things I tend to look at quite a bit now (often frowning on how clumsy or unnecessary some of them are), however this show is one of the best I have seen, and there truly is a lot of them. It is all done so cleverly and with a smooth style, including the wonderful swift sweeping in of microphones and club bars onto the stage. Also I particularly loved the shoving on of the cast on office chairs.


So yes a magnificent musical, wonderful on the ear and magnificent on the eye, with a wonderful cast successfully recreating the sixties era. The show is deservedly almost sold out at Royal & Derngate, however if you are able to snatch a ticket, I suggest you do so. You might not see a better musical this year.

«««««


Performance reviewed: Tuesday 26th January, 2016 at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton.

 
Jersey Boys runs at the Royal & Derngate until Saturday 6th February, 2016.
Details here: http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/whatson/2016-2017/Derngate/JerseyBoys16

For further details visit the Royal & Derngate website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of A Passage to India at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Creating the world of E. M. Forster's A Passage to India for the stage and into a little over two hours running time offers many challenges, not least creating the visual world of India. However, this co-production between Royal & Derngate and simple8 throw away any need for complex sets, and bring the world of India, including some of its wildlife to life via boxes and bamboo canes. The success of this is really quite amazing as perhaps the crowning moment of the elephant brings home the most. Simple8 is an award-winning ensemble group and the way they work together to get their characters travelling through the world of India explains why they have received the awards.

A Passage to India is a 1924 novel telling of Britain's generally unpleasant rule in India and takes as its story an encounter between the elderly Mrs Moore (Liz Crowther), Adela (Phoebe Pryce), who is keen to see the real India, and Dr Aziz (Asif Khan). While their meetings seem pleasant, to begin with, e…

Review of The Flint Street Nativity, performed by University Of Northampton BA Actors at Maidwell Hall (Avenue Campus), Northampton

The Flint Street Nativity was presented by the BA Actors as part of a double bill with The Night Before Christmas, and you could hardly imagine such a difference in style. Tim Firth's genuinely, quite endearing play was quite the opposite to the rough and vicious Christmas spirit of the previous show.

Flint Street offers the intriguing situation of adult performers acting as children as they present to their audience (and always watched by the unseen, but a creepy red lighted teacher, Mrs Horrocks), their production of the nativity. It forms quite a delight of totally recognisable characters from your school days if you are able to remember that far back.

Among my favourite performances from this are Gemma Fensham as the total brat Gabriel, never seeming to have an expression other than sucking a lemon, as she breezily switches her best friend back and forth with abandon. She rather stylishly perfected the sulking strutting off routine as well, fabulous! Playing up to his size with…

Review of Balm in Gilead, University of Northampton BA Acting (Creative Acting) at Maidwell Hall, Northampton

Watching the production of Balm in Gilead sees my entering the fifth year of following the University of Northampton acting students, and what theatre they have provided over the years!

Balm in Gilead is no less intriguing than anything that has gone before, written in 1965 by Lanford Wilson, you might think this would be a dated item for the young students to be performing, however, nothing could be further from the truth. Set in a cafe (transposed to England from its original American setting), it sees the lives of addicts, homeless and sex workers converge into a mixture of good but mostly bad moments.
My first time in the Maidwell Hall saw an encounter with a brilliantly realised community full of the world of the cafe and the surrounding homes, cardboard boxes and dishevelled beds. As we enter the characters of this world begin living alongside us, addressing us, begging us for money, pushing shopping trolleys around offering off the cuff exchanges with the audience and confronti…