March 18, 2008

Thumbs Up for Jersey Boys in London!

March 18th, 2008

Benedict Nightingale from The Times states that there’s good reason why Jersey Boys is about to enter its third year on Broadway and is now crossing the pond. It has the character, the narrative interest and the sense of place – as the backcloth indicates, the industrial badlands west of the Hudson River – to rise way above its genre. There’s no doubting the background of Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito and the other members of a group that had a New Jersey bowling alley and not Vivaldi in mind when in 1962 it changed its name from the Four Lovers to the Four Seasons.

It’s primarily Frankie Valli’s story. Ryan Molloy’s excellent Valli begins as a bashful nerd in what is, at first, a backing group that, even on tour, finds itself performing to “three Mexicans and a man with no nose” in the Nevada outback.

But it was he who saw the composing potential of Gaudio and insisted on his joining the group; he who insisted on repaying the zillions squandered by DeVito and, of course, he who brought style to Sherry, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Bye Bye Baby and the other songs that came banging across the footlights last night.

In one of several amusing asides, the Beatles are dismissed as invaders whose fans put flowers in their hair and try to levitate the Pentagon. The point about Valli and his chums is that they sang to “the guys flipping burgers and pumping gas and the girls behind the counter at the diner”. They had a blue-collar feel as well as the high-octane energy that, last night, movingly ended with a wizened shrimp of a man coming on stage and hugging Molloy, Glenn Carter, Stephen Ashfield and the rest of Des McAnuff’s cast.

Yes, it was Frankie Valli.

1 Comment »

  1. ‘Wizened shrimp of a man”,Ireally think there are better words to describe frankie,to me they sound insulting,even though I’m sure that was not your intent.but us Newarkers take exception to things written or said about ‘Our boys’THANK YOU

    Comment by Betsy — March 19, 2008 @ 7:17 pm

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