Review: Jersey Boys at Bristol HippodromePosted on: 12 Jan 2023
Tempting though it is to shut the door, pull the curtains and grab the duvet during these January evenings, a trip to the theatre is always worth the effort and the fast-moving escapism provided by Jersey Boys at the Bristol Hippodrome didn’t disappoint.
The show follows the story of the popular 60s rock and roll group Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons bringing to life their formation through their successes and eventual demise with each of the principal actors taking a turn as the presenter. The documentary style provides a genuine behind-the-scenes insight into the group members’ lives including prison, mob connections and bad debts. The freedom of the ‘swinging sixties’, or perhaps the lack of social media, ensured the bumpy history was predominantly untold until the writing of this band-endorsed jukebox musical.
Since attracting a collection of Tony and Olivier nominations and awards following its premiere in 2004, the touring production has a lot to live up to. The curtain rises to a 50s New Jersey and the challenges of those times for the young people living there. Move on and grit, determination and a whole lot of hard work is well represented with rolling scenes leading the group to the top of their game. Throughout the show you are taken on a journey of hardship, success, joy and sadness whilst their endless list of hits is applied to each of these emotions well.
The set remains simple yet strong allowing the tight choreography and flawless harmonies to dominate the stage. Addressing the audience in each of their sections, the principal four complement each other both vocally and in the development of their individual personalities. Dalton Wood’s edgy performance as Tommy DeVito was given extra impact by the dulcet tones provided by the deep rich voice of Christopher Short as Nick Massi and Blair Gibson brought the talented singer/songwriter Bob Gaudio to life effortlessly as he demonstrated the ease with which a great vocalist can perform.
Ryan Heenan rose to the challenge of the role of Frankie Valli’s famous and instantly recognisable falsetto despite, at times, a shaky balancing of the mics by the sound techs. The supporting cast was also strong but a special mention for me must go to Damien Winchester whose presence shone every time he was on stage and whose vocal range and strength sat comfortably with the spectacular band who were out of the pit and an active part of the show.
It would be difficult for anyone of any age to watch without recognising their hits. Songs including ‘Sherry’, ‘Big Girls Don't Cry’, ‘My Eyes Adored You’, ‘Walk Like A Man’ and ‘December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)’ were the highlights for me and had everyone tapping their feet whilst trying hard to resist singing along. After the curtain fell on a sad note the uplifting finale brought the audience to their feet and with smiles and chatter the auditorium emptied no doubt with an earworm for the rest of the week likely to follow!
Whether, as I do, you remember the music of The Four Seasons firsthand or you think maybe you have heard of Frankie Valli or even if you just want a winter warmer this show is worth a visit as a good dose of January medicine.
Playing at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 21 January - age guidance 12+, parental guidance advised. Click here to find out more or book tickets.
What's On: Bristol Hippodrome are running a January sale not to be missed
What's On: Tickets for Life of Pi at Bristol Hippodrome are on sale now
A Bristolian from birth, Jackie has fond memories of trips to the theatre dating back to ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ in the ‘70s alongside every opportunity to watch Les Mis and The Rocky Horror Show (outfits taming a little as the years passed!). With careers in banking and education, Jackie lived in London a while taking every opportunity to visit the capital’s theatres and their diverse offerings. From Hamilton to Moulin Rouge to The Mousetrap, she approaches every show with an open mind and a great deal of respect for the cast and production team on their challenges and achievements. Now semi-retired and back ‘home’ in Bristol, Jackie manages the accounts of a local design firm and, alongside family and travel, continues to enjoy the amazing benefits of living in our fabulous city