If you’re trying to break a musicals non-believer into the world of stories told through song, Jersey Boys is the show for you.
Avoiding the typical musical tropes of breaking into song mid-conversation or using pop songs to hold together an unrelated story, a la We Will Rock You, Jersey Boys simply tells us the story of The Four Seasons and their career, with their songs in the appropriate places. It’s quite a refreshing take. And musical lovers never fear, it still has that infectious charm that pins a grin on your face and gets your toes tapping.
The Four Seasons may not be as famous today as Queen or Abba, but they have enough and more hits to fill an entire show – indeed, some great tunes have been cut into montages just to make sure they all fit in. The pace of the story means that you don’t feel like you’re missing out, though, because straight away you’re whisked onto another hit. Likewise, knowing that what you’re watching is a true story about real people means that you’re just as eager for the dialogue scenes as you are to see the band singing another belter. Using the different characters’ viewpoints is a particularly clever way of holding back information for big reveals later in the show.
The cast all perform impeccably, but you can’t deny that the strength really lies with the four main band members, who really convey the loyalties and dynamics of the group. Nevertheless there are some excellent smaller parts such as Bob Crewe and Gyp DeCarlo that provide the comic edge.
If there’s one criticism of the West End production, I’d say it’s the very opening. The curtain rises on a street dance crew and modern day singer, and for three minutes I thought I was in the wrong show. Though acknowledging that The Four Seasons have been very influential on modern pop music, this little introduction was just slightly jarring.
All in all, though, Jersey Boys was excellent fun, very moving and has had us seeking out Frankie Valli concert tickets ever since. Definitely a must-see for fans of 60s pop who fancy a boogie in the aisles.
Get tickets for Jersey Boys at showsinlondon.co.uk