Jersey Boys continues to be one of the most popular musicals around, and from last night’s performance at the Bristol Hippodrome, it is easy to see why.
Those (like me) who look forward to going just to hear their big hits will find themselves wrapped up in the true story of their rise to stardom, including dealings with the mafia, trouble with the police and deals with loan sharks.
The show took a long time to get going. The first twenty minutes dragged as the actors seemed to struggle to find their feet. That said, Stephen Webb as Tommy DeVito was strong, and successfully navigated us through those first few scenes until we were introduced to Bobby Gaudio, expertly played by Sam Ferriday, and The Four Seasons were born.
The four main leads are all exceptional. As well as Webb and Ferriday, Lewis Griffiths really gives a subtle, understated yet deeply emotional performance as Nick Massi. As Frankie Valli, Tim Driesen takes us from the wide-eyed innocence of youth to the grieving father very well, but it was a shame that his words got lost at times.
This production was not without its flaws; at times the instrumental music drowned out the vocals, and some set changes were so loud that you couldn’t hear what was said. The female swings were weak and sometimes seemed superfluous. That said, there were also some great supporting performances, including Damian Buhagiar as Joe Pesci and Henry Davis as Hank Majewski.
As one might expect, the vocal performances were flawless. For me, childhood memories came flooding back as my dad used to play the familiar tracks over and over when I was growing up. There is nothing to describe the magical moment when the four first don their red jackets and bust into “Sherry.”
From that moment on, the musical really comes alive. The audience loved hearing the hits, and Driesen has Valli’s vocals down perfectly. There were moments when I wondered if we were going to get a standing ovation in the middle of a show.
Great staging techniques are used for TV appearances, which are live broadcast up on a big screen and interspersed with original audience footage, and also for their concert, where the audience is dazzled with bright light as we watch the quartet perform as if we were backstage.
The second half of the show was even more gripping than the first and that very well-deserved standing ovation came as soon as the lights dimmed and continued throughout the curtain call, right up until the band finished playing.