Left – Declan Egan, Dion Bilios, Anthony Harkin and Glaston Toft. Photo – Jeff Busby
The international smash hit and award winning musical Jersey Boys is finally in Brisbane and it lives up to all the hype and then some more. Be you a Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons fan, a fan of the 1960's, a fan of slick musicals with the highest of production values, or just a fan of a fantastic night out, Jersey Boys is guaranteed to deliver a night you will never forget. (Applause please, as I avoided the obvious Four Seasons pun "Oh What a Night".)
There truly is something remarkable about the 'rock'n'roll' era and the way musicians were discovered, how they became musical phenomena and the way their records were made. For anyone who remembers the era (because they lived it) they'll know all too well that in terms of music, it's just not made the way it used to be. This kind of nostalgia is front and centre as we follow the journey of four working class boys and how they come together despite the odds to become one of America's biggest pop sensations of all time.
Jersey Boys is a fast paced piece that keeps you riveted and rocking through each scene. Brilliantly written by Marsall Brickman and Rick Elice, the action seamlessly moves from narration and direct audience address into tight, animated scenes and on to the music. The music written by Bob Gaudio, and lyrics by Bob Crewe, (Sherry, Big Girls Don't Cry, Walk Like a Man, Oh What a Night and many more) are the much loved hits of The Four Seasons, and obvious audience favourites.
What really adds to the vibrancy of this musical and the entertainment factor are the moments when you feel as though you have literally stepped into a 'time machine'; you can almost forget that you are sitting in QPAC's Lyric theatre in Brisbane 2012. The audience become the eye-witness to the moments of magic discovery from when Bob Gaudio first plays for Frankie, Tommy and Nick and the four sing 'Cry for Me', through to live to camera American T.V. performances, to Frankie Valli's first hit as a solo artist with 'Can't Take My Eye Off You'.
The electricity and excitement is brought to the audience through the brilliant and amazing acting and vocal performances. Faultless and inspiring performances are equally given by Declan Egan (who makes his professional debut) as Bob Gaudio and Graham Foote (who Brisbanites will fondly remember from his performances with The Ten Tenors) as Frankie Valli. Foote's vocal performance is impeccable, a true homage to the unique talents of Franki Valli. Anthony Harkin plays the lovable bad boy and larger than life Tommy DeVito with flair and panache, while Glaston Toft completes the foursome as the quiet and seemingly laid back Nick Massi. Toft's comic timing and understated charm is a delight to watch especially as he delivers one of the funniest monologues in the show. Michael Griffiths as Bob Crewe steals the spotlight more than once with great delivery of many of the comic moments this musical has to offer. The entire ensemble give high energy and engaging performances as they transform through the host of characters who surround The Four Seasons.
The crisp and tight choreography by Sergio Trujillo is superbly integrated and adds to the authenticity of the piece, as does the stylish costume design by Jess Goldstein. Brilliant scenic design by Klara Zieglerova directly beams onto the stage everything Jersey and 60's pop culture. Giant LCD visions of the story interpreted pop art style and the live transmission of video footage of the performers on stage out to American analogue T.V. land help to immerse the audience in the feeling of the era. The lighting design by Howell Binkley also adds some exciting perspectives; in particular the 'backstage at a concert feel' that the lighting effects so brilliantly provide for the audience in one scene.
Jersey Boys isn't just a walk down memory lane or a bio-narrative for musical theatre, it's a once in a life-time experience for Brisbane audiences to embrace, as have nearly 14 million other theatre goers worldwide. While I'm not of the era I was exposed to The Four Seasons growing up and I have a fond affiliation with their music. Mum and Dad often played their hits on long trips in the car as we set off on our holidays. Jersey Boys transported me back to that youthful time and back to those feelings: the freedom, the fun, the excitement. I can only imagine how it emotionally and physically teleported some of the Baby Boomers who would have been in the audience on the opening night. Brisbane's adulation for the musical was evident in the ardour of the applause as the audience connected with Frankie, Bob, Tommy and Nick's true life stories as the musically ever enduring Jersey Boys who became The Four Seasons.
Dodger Theatricals, Rodney Rigby and Dainty Group present
The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Venue: Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Cultural Centre, South Bank
Dates: from 13 July 2012
Tickets: $60 – $195
Bookings: www.qpac.com.au | 136 246