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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.

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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/


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