Jersey Boys receives a standing ovation at the New Alex Theatre

The much anticipated musical Jersey Boys opened at the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham last night and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Sparkling set pieces, uniformly excellent performances, and those magical songs ensured that the packed house was on its feet by the end of the show, all hoping for one more song before they trooped off into the bitterly cold night. It was just that good.

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Jersey Boys is the story of the Four Seasons, the New Jersey band who had hit after hit at the start of the swinging 60s. I recently interviewed lead Jersey Boy Tim Driesen, who is playing Frankie Valli in this tour, and he said that the Four Seasons were a band with a back story that was kept hidden away, a group no-one really knows anything about. The start of the story shows a group of young felons, caught up in petty crime and larceny, serving time behind bars, whilst striving for fame and fortune with the perfect band line up. They were not exactly the wholesome, all American boys their later image suggested.

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Lewis Griffiths, Tim Driesen, Sam Ferriday and Stephen Webb in JERSEY BOYS UK tour credit Helen Maybanks

In this early section, Tommy De Vito, played with real virile intensity and swagger by Stephen Webb, dominates. His drive to put a winning band line-up together, and simultaneously protecting the young Frankie Valli, whilst almost introducing him to a life of crime, is the heart of the early story.  With Nick Massi (Lewis Griffiths – just brilliant, and totally droll and funny in so many scenes.) they go through a series of names and line-ups, with their lead singer Frankie Valli being their saving grace. But when Joe Pesci (yes, that Joe Pesci) introduces former one-hit-wonder Bob Gaudio to the group – the stage is set for Pop history to be made.

Sam Ferriday plays the songwriter extraordinaire Bob Gaudio with a youthful, yet sensibly calm demeanor that is a great counter balance to hothead Tommy. His friendship with Frankie Valli is a joy to watch, the support they give to one another is another strength of the story. Tim Driesen is just a revalation as Frankie Valli, that falsetto voice is pure and perfect and just soars across the theatre. The first time he sings Sherry I just got the shivers, it was such a brilliant moment, whilst the pathos and heartbreak he brings to ‘my eyes adored you’ was another brilliant moment in a performance packed with so many.

 Lewis Griffiths, Tim Driesen, Sam Ferriday and Stephen Webb in JERSEY BOYS UK tour credit Helen Maybanks


Lewis Griffiths, Tim Driesen, Sam Ferriday and Stephen Webb in JERSEY BOYS UK tour credit Helen Maybanks

Some would argue that the songs are the real stars of Jersey Boys, and certainly, they have stood the test of time to sound just as good today as they did in their heyday. Standout moments are many – but I would certainly say ‘Can’t take my eyes off you’ was a sublime moment of musical theatre that will linger in the memory for the longest time.

Jersey Boys is probably the best musical I have ever seen, and the best recommendation I can give is to say I wish I was going to see it again tonight, and tomorrow, and Saturday…as I said, it is that good.

Jersey Boys is at the New Alexandre Theatre, Birmingham until Sunday 4th January 2015. Click here for ticket information.

 

Oh what a lunchtime – Jersey Boys launches at The Jamhouse

Well, I can think of far worse ways to spend my lunchtime than listening to the music of the Four Seasons. This is exactly what I did yesterday when I attended the press launch for the smash hit musical Jersey Boys, which will be arriving at the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham in December.

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The Jersey Boys

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The multi-award winning musical tells the story of the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, famous for so many wonderful hits, including  ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Walk like a Man’, ‘Beggin’ and my personal favourite, ‘Sherry’. Set in 1962, the ‘Jersey Boys’ were from the wrong side of town, and yet became one of the most successful groups of all time, selling 100 million records worldwide. The songs and the story have combined to make a beloved, acclaimed musical, and today’s launch gave a delicious taster for the show.

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A crowd of music lovers, friends of the New Alexandra theatre, and assorted press descended on The Jamhouse to enjoy a special performance by members of the cast of Jersey Boys, fresh from a performance in Manchester. Introduced by producer David Ian, we were treated to an energetic, polished, pitch perfect performance of a medley of favourite songs from the show including the showstopping December 1963 (Oh what a night). Tim Driesen (Frankie Valli), Stephen Webb (Tommy DeVito), Lewis Griffiths (Nick Massi) and Sam Ferriday (Bob Gaudio) are just flawless, with Tim Driesen in particular showing huge charisma as the legendary Frankie Valli.

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We were left wanting so much more, counting the days until the tour hits Birmingham in early December. This is sure to be the hottest ticket in town come the festive season, and with 62% of the tickets already sold, a full two months before the tour starts, it seems that Jersey Boy mania will be in the air come Christmas.

Jersey Boys arrives in Birmingham at the New Alexandra Theatre on Tuesday 9th December, and runs until Sunday 4th January. Get ticket information here.