Bristol Theatre News

Jersey Boys Bristol Hippodrome Review 2018

Jersey Boys
Bristol Hippodrome
31/10/2018 at 7.30pm

View of the stage for Jersey Boys from Stalls P18

Oh What A Night! Standing ovations are very often bestowed by theatre audiences these days but never more deserved than the one given at Jersey Boys last night. It’s a jukebox musical that hits all the right notes with a well written book, great music and brilliant performances.

Instead of mish-mashing Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons’ music into a cheap contrived storyline, this one sticks with the actual history of the band and gets it right. It’s dramatised through their rocky history peppered with crime, deceit, love, loss, rags to riches and back to rags again.

Snappy scene changes, tight direction and perfect musical arrangement keeps this story driving forward at a cracking pace with no lag. You don’t need to be a big fan of Frankie Valli and/or The Four Seasons to enjoy this show because it’s so well created. Guaranteed you will know at least 50 per cent of the songs without realising because they are so deeply ingrained in popular culture.

As a band, The Four Seasons have a really distinctive sound and casting for this is crucial. Michael Watson brilliantly captured Valli’s unique vocals through a well-rounded performance that was no tribute or imitation act. In fact, the entire band worked so well together creating the sound of the Four Seasons, it is one of the few musical theatre shows I’ve seen that I could genuinely believe the entire cast were who they were supposed to be.

Popular musical theatre performer Lewis Griffiths has returned to the laconic role of Nick Massi on this UK tour. We thank you greatly for this casting. He was much appreciated.

Last night, Peter Nash stepped into the role of bad boy Tommy DeVito and was the perfect mix of charm and attitude. As Bob Gaudio, Declan Egan was the final piece of the Jersey Boys’ puzzle providing most of the night’s humour.

I know a show is particularly good when I’m disappearing down a related YouTube rabbit hole at midnight instead of going to bed. Listening to the real Frankie Valli and the real The Four Seasons directly after the performance made me realise how closely the cast had captured their sound.

A couple in the 70s sat next to me in the Stalls, expressed their surprise that someone as young as me (silently thanked them on this accidental compliment) would be interested in music as old as this.

The Four Seasons produced hit after hit and even now, their songs are found in TV adverts, TV shows, pub karaoke, wedding playlists, on the radio, absolutely everywhere. When Michael Watson sang pivotal moment song Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, you could feel the excitement and love from the audience. I’ve seen several jukebox musicals now and you just don’t get that magical vibe at most of them. Jersey Boys is definitely a multigenerational show and a great piece of theatre.

Arnold Mabhena was impressively busy as many, many supporting characters throughout. And, I loved Joel Elferink’s effortless flamboyance as Bob Crewe.

Access Note: For those with light sensitivity, there is a very bright light at the end of Act 1, though you will see this coming.

Jersey Boys is at The Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 17 November. We have officially bestowed Must-See status.

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