Naomi MacKay watched Jersey Boys at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre – running until Saturday 26 November.
A French rap version of a classic, a Bay City Rollers cover and an Oscar-winning actor – it was a night full of surprises at Jersey Boys.
The show charts the rise/fall/rise of Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, from their start in New Jersey in the sixties and a life peppered with crime, jail stays and the mob, to their eventual induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Unless you are an aficionado, you will no doubt be surprised, as I was, by the sheer volume of songs listed in the programme – Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe penned more hits than most of us have had hot dinners – not only for Franki Valli but other greats such as Neil Diamond, Barbra Streisand, Patti LaBelle and many more.
Expect the likes of Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Oh What A Night, Walk Like A Man, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You and Working My Way Back To You, to name but a few.
But back to the show – the first half proceeds at a frenetic pace, dipping in and out of a whole host of numbers – there’s a lot to fit in, telling the boys’ story and covering so many songs, and it would have been nice to have the time to appreciate more than a few bars of some of the songs. But the tale is told well, with plenty of comic moments to add light to the shade.
The talented cast work hard for their supper, with the four boys in the group bringing fabulous vocals to match those of the original group – the wonderful deep bass from Christopher Short as Nick Massi, and the difficult task of emulating Franki’s high tones by Ryan Heenan. Blair Gibson’s sweet voice matches the naive sweet and super-talented Bob Gaudio – and Dalton Wood is Tommy DeVito, the driven but controlling leader of the group, who constantly gets them into trouble.
The rest of the cast do a sterling job of doubling up on roles, so good in fact, that I wasn’t quite sure who had played which part in the end!
Special mention to Damien Winchester, who brings a comic talent to each of his smaller roles, before showing off a wonderful voice in the finale – I hope we get to see more of him soon.
The action slows a little in the second half, allowing the audience to appreciate the songs a bit more – and finishes with a finale that had everyone on their feet, clapping and dancing along.
Oh what a night, indeed.
Tickets are available at: www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (bkg fee) or call 0844 871 7615 (Fees apply. Calls cost up to 7p per min plus your phone company’s access charge). Until Sat 26 Nov, 7.30pm, Weds, Thu and Sat at 14.30pm. Age guidance 12+
Image: L-R Christopher Short , Ryan Heenan, Blair Gibson & Dalton Wood in Jersey Boys UK & Ireland Tour, credit Birgit & Ralf Brinkhoff