July 20, 2008

London’s Jersey Boys Continue To Shine!

July 20th, 2008

By Pamela Singer, Jersey Boys Blog Special Correspondent

Just when you thought the whole Jersey Boys phenomenon couldn’t possibly get any more exciting, another spectacular production comes along that raises the already high bar even higher, and reconfirms the ongoing, universal appeal of this show. Recently returned from across the pond, I’m thrilled to report that London’s Jersey Boys are rocking the West End as never before. From the moment one enters the magnificent Prince Edward theatre, you can sense a palpable excitement. Resplendent in plush, Rococco decor (red velvet, gold inlay, stained glass ), the Prince Edward is warm and welcoming. It’s also huge; 3 levels, many side boxes, an upper level outside balcony, and an expansive stage. Walking into the theatre, you are immediately enticed by the familiar sounds of the OBC album playing, even before the performance. Is that style or what?!

The opening bars of “Ces Soiree-La” portend amazingly lush orchestrations, and a resonant sound system. Could the air be any heavier with anticipation? The song ends, and our Boys swagger to center stage; scanning the audience, pausing a second before starting; a perfect moment. If it’s possible to build on perfection, the show takes off from there. Our 3rd row center seats gave us a fabulous vantage point. Ladies and gentleman, I can tell you that this cast DELIVERS!! To a person, they are seamless, and fit together like a glove. The Jersey accents are flawless, enhanced by an occasional British undertone. We saw several understudies, but wouldn’t have known by the polished performances.

Jye Frasca (usually on as Joey) makes a dynamite Frankie. Wearing his emotions on his sleeve, Jye is heartwrenching, taking us with him through every single one. We literallly see Frakie grow up before our eyes. Jye’s voice was a bit weak in the first act, but projected beautifully in the second. His “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” was magnificent. Glenn Carter is terrific as Tommy, juxtaposing a gorgeous physical exterior with not so pretty actions. His bedroom eyes and facial gestures tell stories that aren’t in the script, pulling the audience in closer. Loved the dance moves as well. Stephen Ashfield is fabulous as Bob Gaudio, a perfect combination of vulnerability and maturity. His voice is gorgeous, and soared on Cry For Me. As Nick Massi, the excellent Philip Bulcock expertly captures his inner turmoil and reticence. When Nick finally leaves the Four Seasons, we feel it along with the Boys.

Graham Vick made a fine Bob Crewe, delivering his lines with a perfect combination of sarcasm, humor, and smarts. His It’s a MET-A-PHOR roused the previously somnolent audience. The Jersey Girls; Laura Brydon, Amy Pemberton, and Michelle Francis all gave strong performances in their many roles. Amy was particularly effective as Lorraine, giving a real poignancy to her and Frankie’s relationship and break up. Stuart Milligan’s Gyp Decarlo was both dark and paternal. It’s no wonder that Frankie sang “My Mother’s Eyes” when he asked.

My only complaint was a rather staid audience that didn’t warm up until the middle of the second act. Much of Rick and Marshall’s brilliant dialogue seemed to go over their heads’ in the beginning. However, yours truly, a born and bred Jersey Girl, was on her feet cheering many times. When Tommy declares, “We put Jersey on the map,” I was right there. Nice to get smiles and acknowledgments from the Boys throughout the performance! The audience finally warmed up in the second act, and quickly made up for their previous lack of enthusiasm. Jye brought down the house with CTMEOY, and the cheering continued through “Rag Doll” and “Who Loves You.” Everyone was on their feet for a wonderful finale of “Oh, What A Night.”

As if this day could possibly get any better, we made our way around the block afterwards to the stage door (a bit tricky to find, but well worth it!). Stephen and Jye spent quite some time chatting with us. Many thanks to Charly for giving them a heads up about my visit! They are both sweethearts, and couldn’t have been nicer or more genuine.. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast came out much earlier or later, so we weren’t able to see them. They had only a 2 hour break before preparing for the evening show. As with every cast member of every Jersey Boys production, these actors are truly appreciative of, and responsive to, fan support, making an incredibly special experience even more special.

So folks, please, please try and see this production if you’re able. It is unique, wonderful, and a real jewel in the already stellar Jersey Boys crown (pardon the Royal reference, guess the British Monarchy is still on my mind!). Not that we needed another reminder, but this phenomenal show, and the incredible joy it provides, just keeps on going and going, like that bunny on TV. Let’s keep on chasing the music and trying to get home.

Thank you so much to Pamela Singer for sharing her amazing JB London experience!


  1. WOW WOW this is a fabulous review Pam!! I loved all the intricate details. The Prince Edward really is a grandiose theatre, I never even noticed the outside balcony area till I saw your pictures. The London production is indeed AMAZING. The “Lads” are all extremely talented, charming, gracious and all wickedly handsome. I wish I reminded you on where the stage door is located. From where you were sitting in the lower stalls you just go left and exit the closest door to the stage…up I believe two flights of stairs and your right there. Next time. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful experience.

    Comment by Charly O'Clarit — July 21, 2008 @ 5:32 am

  2. Awesome review Pam! Sounds like we need to get some more Jersey Girls out to the Prince Edward and get this British audience going way before Act II!

    Comment by NewJerseyLasagna — July 21, 2008 @ 7:02 am

  3. This was an amazing review for a Monday morning. Thanks for this Pam. You put some pep in my step….

    Comment by Gayle Kamen-Weinstein — July 21, 2008 @ 9:17 am

  4. Thanks Pam. I felt like I was right there with you. Maybe someday I will get to see this awesome cast.

    Comment by Melissa — July 21, 2008 @ 9:40 am

  5. Pam,
    I really enjoyed reading your London JB experience! The theater looks beautiful. You were able to capture that for us so welll in your pictures. Thanks for posting such a wonderful description of the show!

    Comment by Beverley Micciche — July 21, 2008 @ 9:46 am

  6. Pam,

    What a wonderful review. The pictures are just amazing. You look beautiful and so happy! Thanks for sharing this marvelous experience with us. love, IE

    Comment by irene eizen — July 21, 2008 @ 1:29 pm

  7. Thank you to everyone for their kind words and positive feedback.It was a pleasure to relive the show in writing. London was a wonderful experience, highlighted by this fabulous performance of Jersey Boys. Its great to come back and share it with everyone in our JB family here. I hope you all have a chance to see the show in London!!! My hand to God, you will love it. :)

    XO, Pam

    Comment by Pamela — July 21, 2008 @ 4:15 pm

  8. Pam,

    Tis truly a wonderful review!

    Glad you’re home safe and sound from across the pond :)

    Jody :)

    Comment by Joody Cardillo — July 21, 2008 @ 5:07 pm

  9. Great write-up and pictures, Pam. The British do have the reputation of being a bit more reserved; have you inquired about being a permanent facilitator.

    Didn’t get much reaction from “we put Jersey on the map”, huh? Wonder what the reaction was to “driving through a turnpike and a landfill just to cheer for a team from New York anyway!” Did they recognize Neil Sedaka? (I know they recognized Frank Sinatra!)

    Comment by Howard Tucker — July 21, 2008 @ 5:22 pm

  10. Pam,

    My wife,Debbie, and I saw the last performance of this marvelous show in Cleveland, Ohio yesterday, a few hours in real time after you had seen it. What a small world. And what a great review, your comments exactly reflected how we felt about this show. We were both born in 1952 and I lived in New Jersey from ’68 to ’72.

    We also sat in the third row. Before the show started I was very concerned about “sitting so close to the speakers”, but as soon as the show started I was thrilled to be there.
    We both fell in love with every member of our cast and their performance. I am not a big theater fan, our backwater between Cleveland and Pittsburgh does not lend itself to that. But we do have the rock and roll hall of fame in Cleveland and that scene in the show where they got inducted was greeted with hometown pride.

    We were truly blessed to see this show and it will have a lasting place in our memory.
    Thank you for your great review. I am sending it on to my relatives, so they will be able to understand why I would like them to see this show.

    Carl Foote

    Comment by Carl Foote — July 21, 2008 @ 5:28 pm

  11. Howard,

    Believe it or not, that great line about the landfill, as well as part of Tommy’s initial monologue, was taken out in London. Stephen told us it didn’t go over well with audiences, so was partially pulled. Also, the line about ‘Frankie’s no Neil Sedaka’, was changed to Englebert Humperding (sp?), a much more recognizable singer to Brits. Sinatra is apparantly world reknown!!

    X, Pam

    Comment by Pamela — July 22, 2008 @ 8:04 am

  12. Surprised that they didn’t use Cliff Richard as a comparison.

    Better time line

    Comment by Ray Ricci — July 23, 2008 @ 8:00 am

  13. Pamela,

    Even though John and I had the pleasure of hearing about your trip one on one, I found myself reading the account of your Jersey Boy London experience rather quickly. Quickly, because your writing was exciting and I couldn’t wait to absorb every word. WHAT A MAGNIFICENT REVIEW!!! I hope the London Boys and Cast will read this to see the affect they had on an American OBC diehard. While Broadway has been the only show we have seen you are right that Jersey Boys provides an incredible joy. I love that you had no inhibitions to get up and cheer… the cast must have felt great to have such enthusiasm especially in the first act.

    I think you should be added to the list of Jersey Boys correspondents… you certainly kept me glued to this page.

    Norene and John

    Comment by Norene — July 23, 2008 @ 6:37 pm

  14. Great Review Pamela and on my re-visit I found the show an ensemble of ‘stars’and everything you said with one exception!. Everyone was brilliant. Catch my review from an early July visit at http://movementbureau.blogs.com/chameleon/
    The Four Season UK Appreciation Society have taken this production to it’s heart and although the audiences at the Prince Edward seem a bit reserved during the first half, it is because they are so absorbed in the play. Their ecstatic response through the second half shows how much they care. But with such an exeptional cast, exceptional music and a great theatre how could they notit is a joy to behold.I personally enjoyed it more than New York as did my wife.
    Ken Charmer for the Four Seasons UK Appreciation Society

    Comment by Ken Charmer — July 24, 2008 @ 8:27 am

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