Melding old school Rock n’ Roll with pop and Motown, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons became one of the most recognisable quartets in American history with a back-story as compelling as their countless hits.
The audience, filled with long serving fans of famous tunes, gears up for this performance of Jersey Boys in The Kings Theatre in Glasgow on a drizzly Wednesday night. As the show opens, we are taken back to Tommy DeVito’s humble, albeit it chaotic, beginnings in Jersey.
Played by the outstanding Simon Bailey, DeVito is portrayed as the underground music industry’s wise guy, oozing cockiness and swagger, as he practices with musicians on the street.
Desperate to make it big and escape his neighbourhood, Bailey’s charismatic DeVito wheels and deals to assemble a music group with a unique sound.
The first half of the show depicts the band’s steady rise to fame and fortune with DeVito plunging himself into debt to get gigs and Valli nervously stepping onto the stage for the first time with DeVito’s encouragement. Amongst their clunky band practices and tensions between band members, we catch glimpses of raw talent during rehearsals of Sherry and B-side tracks.
The aesthetic of the production with its loud tailored suits, Cadillac cars, large greased-back quiffs, and urban to Hollywood settings provides a colourful glimpse into 1960s America.
Dayle Hodge is a revelation as the iconic Frankie Valli, a pint-sized star with a remarkable vocal range and a tone as sweet and rich as treacle. Hodge, with his charm and Joe Pesci Italian-American accent, steals the show and makes the production a true musical tribute to Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.
The second half of the show considerably kicks up a notch as the group become a global success and the audience are delighted by signature classics including Big Girls Don’t Cry, Bye Bye Baby, and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.
Lewis Griffiths brings dry deadpan humour to Nick Massi, DeVito’s right-hand man who always wanted to start his own group but still, even after he left the band, couldn’t resist a reunion.
Declan Egan, too, is superb in bringing multiple dimensions to a character we love to hate, the formidable songwriter, Bob Gaudio. As Gaudio strikes up a rapport with Valli and stirs up tension by pulling DeVito’s protégé away from him, Egan brings complexity to a clean-cut well-to-do character.
The show is filled with extraordinary vocal performances, humour, grit, and heart. With songs not everyone realises they already knew, this production of Jersey Boys tells the true story of four guys who scrambled to success and fell back down but remain a force to be reckoned with and the owners of a well-deserved place in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.