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 Rules For Living at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

It is possibly a rule in life for a few in the audience for the opening night of Sam Holcroft's domestic comedy Rules For Living not to mention Christmas until December. Therefore anyone of such a persuasion might have been a little perturbed to be presented on the 13th September with, an undeniably brilliantly dressed, homely Christmas scene.

Opening up in glorious dollhouse style and on a gorgeous little hinge, this little home of living room and kitchen sets the scene for a typical family Christmas. Mother Edith (Jane Booker) welcomes her sons, Matthew (Jolyon Coy) and Adam (Ed Hughes) and their respective partners, Carrie (Carlyss Peer) and Nicole (Laura Rogers) And with a final dramatic arrival of father Francis (Paul Shelley), the scene is very much set for comic antics of the highest calibre.

The first thing you get from Rules For Living in the first few minutes is the arrival of one of the most brilliant, yet simple concepts I have seen for a while in the play. These are …

Review of Make Way For Lucia by John Van Druten at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

There have been a couple of television versions of the Mapp & Lucia novels by E. F. Benson over the years and irrespective of which generation version you might have seen, the roles of Miss Mapp and Mrs. Lucas were filled with some heavyweight performers. So taking on these roles could, in theory, be a challenge too much to live up to. However, that would be if the characters themselves were less the sum of the performer. These are great characters on paper as well as on stage and therefore Gena McCrystal (Miss Mapp) and Juliet O'Connor (Lucia) make them very much their own in the stage adaption by John Van Druten.

Lucia has arrived and breezed both into the town of Tilling and the musical chair roundabout of house rental that is want to occur here. Her rented property is Miss Mapp's and for some reason, Mapp fails to follow the routine of keeping away, constantly "popping in", so the battle lines are drawn.
Make Way for Lucia is the typical battle of supremacy i…

Review of Once Upon A Grimm Tale by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company (Early) at Judge's Lodgings, Northampton

Once upon a time, there was a brave theatrical reviewer. He lived in a market town in deepest darkest Englaland, where many great and remarkable things of stage did occur. At the centre of this wondrous world of performing spectacles was a place referred to by many as the Royal Derngatus, a place of people pretending to be other people and telling tales of mystery, intrigue and frolics.

Within the fortressed walls of Royal Derngatus, there were a group of fearless players who entertained local folk for no reward, other than the thrill of seeing the joy in the faces of others. Those group of artists went by the name of Actors Companus, which many pronounced carefully when they did say it out loud. This group of merry men and women did have two forms, an early and a late, and but two days before this adventurous evening of forthcoming storytelling, the late group did perform for a third and final time a most amazing feat of theatre, going by the name of Great Expectations.


Our hero of thi…