Saturday 21 August 2021

Jersey Boys - Review

Trafalgar Theatre, London


Music by Bob Gaudio
Lyrics by Bob Crewe
Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Directed by Des McAnuff

The cast of Jersey Boys

A cast - each stars in their own right - perform a riveting, but also humble take on the lives of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Jersey Boys is a story about growing up, the sacrifices that we make along the way and the heartbreak of those left behind, with phenomenal songs to tie it all together.

Ben Joyce leads the cast in his West-End debut as Frankie Valli, with an uncanny musical resemblance to that of the man himself. His voice is distinctive and powerful and manages to capture Frankie’s uniquely powerful falsetto. You won’t leave the show forgetting about his voice any time soon. The audience were in uproar at his solo performances, in particular, the very famous “I can’t take my eyes off of you”, which is without a doubt one of the best renditions of the song. Joyce plays a star, but his authenticity and emotional depth that he brings to Valli is what makes the character truly come alive.
Supporting Joyce to make up The Four Seasons are Adam Bailey as Bob Gaudio, Karl James Wilson as Nick Masel and Benjamin Yates as Tommy De Vito. All three give sublime performances in their roles and are just as much stars of the show as Joyce.

Indeed, when the four perform together it is a truly fantastical experience. From Sergio Trujillo's brilliantly choreographed dance moves (Joyce does the splits!) to their 1960s costumes, this show does everything to make you feel like you’ve been transported back in time. A live, black and white video is even displayed at the back of the theatre screen while they are performing the timeless hits. 

Special mention must be given to Yates who encapsulates everything De Vito was about. Being the first character story that the show begins with, Benjamin’s cocky, confident and downright smooth performance firmly thrusts the audience into the golden era of doo-wop quartets performing under the late night street lamps of New Jersey. De Vito is the progenitor of the group, bringing ‘green’ Frankie in and taking him under his wing, despite all his floors, if it wasn’t for De Vito we wouldn’t have the Frankie as we know it. And Yates' portrayal stays cool from beginning to end, eyes are often drawn to his background dancing which just oozes 1960s style.

The set with mics emerging from the stage and street lamps descending from the rafters is the fifth member of the ensemble, truly transporting the audience to the time and period. A fantastic show that the whole family will enjoy.

Photo credit: Mark Senior

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