Jersey Boys

Going Out / Oxford / Oxfordshire / Review / Theatre

Jersey Boys

A theatre review by Nicholas Newman

This week sees the beginning of a month-long series of performances by the upbeat and fun musical the Jersey Boys at Oxford’s New Theatre. It is a story about how this famous American 1960s pop group rose to fame from New York’s council estates to eventually being inducted into America’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. This show is packed with many upbeat joyful and inspiring numbers, which is still memorable.

Jersey Boys at Oxford’s New Theatre.

The musical features many of the group’s pop hits from the Sixties such as Big Girls Don’t Cry, Oh What a Night and Can’t Take My Eyes off of You.

This sometimes politically incorrect musical has been a worldwide success, with tours all over the English-speaking world. Jersey Boys is a 2005 jukebox musical with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe, and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. It is presented in a documentary-style format that dramatizes the formation, success and eventual break-up of the 1960s rock ‘n’ roll group The Four Seasons. The musical is structured as four “seasons”, each narrated by a different member of the band who gives his own perspective on its history and music. From the narration, one learns that it was not an easy road to fame, many obstacles were faced, for some of the group leaving the poverty and crime of New York’s council estates was harder than for others.

Jersey Boys at Oxford’s New Theatre.

One thing is clear, the multitalented performer’s that act out the main characters behind the rise of Frankie Valli (Michael Watson) and the Four Seasons, makes for great, enjoyable and fun music for all. What is great is how we the audience are made to feel deeply involved in every aspect of developments in the story, whether it is group members having trouble with their music getting played on local radio stations or their more personal troubles.

As for the music, it is technically inspiring and a professional production Francis Goodhand’s small ensemble supplemented by some of the cast at various points perfectly compliment the vocals and with the help of Steve Canyon Kennedy’s sound design not a word is lost whilst maintaining an almost concert-like feel to the drama.

Furthermore, it is a great production to see, and not surprisingly at the end, the audience was clapping, cheering and dancing in the aisles. It is well worth seeing.

• Michael Watson Frankie Valli
• Simon Bailey Tommy De Vito
• Declan Egan Bob Gaudio
• Lewis Griffiths Nick Massi
• Dayle Hodge Frankie Valli at certain performances
• Joel Elferink Bob Crewe
• James Alexander GibbsJoey
• Mark Heenehan Gyp DeCarlo
• Karl James-Wilson Norm Waxman
• Arnold Mabhena Barry Belson
• Phoebe May Newman Francine
• Olive Robinson Lorraine
• James Winter Hank Majewski
• Tara Young Mary Delgado
• Peter Nash
• Dan O’Brien
• Stephen O’Riain
• Amy Thiroff

• Marshall Brickman Author
• Rick Elice Author
• Bob Gaudio Music
• Bob Crewe Lyrics
• Dodger Theatricals Producer
• Ambassador Theatre Group Producer
• Joseph J Grano Producer
• Pelican Group Producer
• Latitude Link Producer
• Rick Steiner Producer
• Des McAnuff Director
• Sergio Truillo Choreographer
• Klara Zieglerova Design
• Jess Goldstein Costume
• Howell Binkley Lighting
• Steve Canyon KennedySound
• Michael Clark (projection design)Design
• Steve Orich (orchestrations)Music
• Ron Melrose (music supervision/vocal arrangements)Music

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