**** 4 Stars
“Oh, What a Night!”
Now 15 years since it opened in 2005 in the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway and 11 years since it debuted at the Prince Edward Theatre in London’s West End, Jersey Boys is once again on the road and makes a two week stop in Edinburgh’s Grand Playhouse theatre.
Jersey Boys is a biographical musical with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe, and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. It is presented in a documentary-style format that dramatizes the formation, success and eventual break-up of the 1960s rock ‘n’ roll group The Four Seasons. The musical is structured as four “seasons”, each narrated by a different member of the band who gives his own perspective on its history and music. Songs include “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Sherry”, “December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)”, “My Eyes Adored You”, “Stay”, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, “Working My Way Back to You” and “Rag Doll”, among so many other classics.
Michael Watson delivers a peerless take on Frankie Valli his ability to mimic the high falsetto notes its an achievement, and he is truly engaging to watch especially as Valli’s life is touched by tragedy on more than one occasion. This production is also very much a showcase of ensemble acting as Simon Bailey, Declan Egan, and Lewis Griffiths as Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi respectively also excel in their roles and when all four come together to deliver the four seasons sound its spine tingling.
Director Des McAnuff makes an interesting choice by opening the show with Ces-Soirees-La (the French rap version of Oh What a night) and it jars against the rest of the show and feels so out of place but does make its point of how the Four Seasons hits continue to transcend time.
Jess Goldsteins costume design shines as much now as it did in the original production and the same is mostly true of Klara Zieglerova’s Scenic design, Howell Binkley’s lighting design and Steve Canyon Kennedy’s Sound design. However as good as it is, there is a slight sense of tiredness creeping in around the edges that leaves you hoping a “new” production may be in the offing soon.
Jersey Boys remains ever popular to its audiences and with such a human and emotional story, its often forgotten how much Frankie and the Seasons went through to gain success and it’s the crux of the story that make the production so watchable. Its also a joyous moment as the curtain falls to a plethora of hit songs as the Audience sing along that make this production of Jersey Boys a real treat of a night out.
Dodger Theatricals and ATG Present Jersey Boys, Edinburgh Playhouse, Runs until Saturday 2nd of March for tickets go to: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/jersey-boys/edinburgh-playhouse
Photo for this review by Rob McDougall