After it's Australian premiere in Melbourne in July 2009, Jersey Boys travelled the east coast of Australia and played to audiences in New Zealand. Now it's time for Melbourne audiences to revisit this engaging hit musical.
While Jersey Boys is a juke-box musical documentary that features the hits of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, what makes this show stand out from so many others is the excellent book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, and the fast-paced, slick staging from director Des McAnuff and choreographer Sergio Trujillo.
The story opens in Paris 2000 with a rap star and back-up performing a cover of Oh What a Night, then takes us back in time to the early 60s when it all began for four young guys in New Jersey.
Brickman and Elice very cleverly tell the story from each of the four's point of view using the seasons of the year as chapter headers.
From Tommy DeVito (Anthony Harkin) we discover that growing up poor in the neighborhood meant a life of petty crime and jail time, which several of them served. Tommy and Nick Massi (Glaston Toft) soon discover a young kid with an unusual voice – Frankie Castellucio, who would become known as Frankie Valli (Jeff Madden). It isn't until the talented songwriter, Bob Gaudio (Declan Egan) joins the group that they get some real attention. With the help of producer/lyricist Bob Crewe (Michael Griffiths) the group becomes known as The Four Seasons and soon becomes an international success.
The storyline covers the highs, relationships, and the many problems and lows that come with such success and the different ways these individuals deal with it. While much of the storyline is played with humour, there are moments that are touching and reflective.
The staging is kept simple, but the action always moves swiftly with many quick changes and a number of sharp, classy musical numbers. The projection and scenic design both serve this production well.
It is always difficult for performers taking over roles in any production, even though this company all perform well. The mark made by the original cast of Jersey Boys still lingers. Toft and Lisa Adams remain from that original cast. Adams again makes a lasting impression with her powerful performance as Mary Delgado, Frankie's first wife. Delgado comes across as a strong, influential character, even though she only appears in a few scenes.
Harkin is a strong Tommy and Egan makes a big impression with the major role of Bobby, but one can't stop thinking that he looks very young for the role, especially in the later scenes.
Canadian Jeff Madden has taken over the central and demanding role of Frankie Valli, after having played it in Toronto and Sydney. He gives it his all, and soon has the audience cheering for more. Graham Foote is the alternate Frankie Valli.
Aside from some minor sound issues during the opening number, this production still shines and serves as a reminder of how good this type of musical theatre can be.
Dodger Theatricals Rodney Rigby Dainty Group Joseph J. Grano Tamara and Kevin Kinsella Pelican Group Michael Watt in association with Latitude Link Rick Steiner present
The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Venue: Princess Theatre, Melbourne
Dates: from Thursday 10 January 2013
Opening Night: Saturday 12 January 2013
Bookings: Ticketmaster www.ticketmaster.com.au | 1300 111 011