Big Girls Don’t Cry – Review – Wakefield Theatre Royal
By @Steve Crabtree, January 2018
Boston. Chicago. New York. And now… Wakefield! The sound of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons are in town tonight, as the tribute show Big Girls Don’t Cry hits West Yorkshire.
Featuring the East Coast Boys, the well-renowned stage show is celebrating its tenth year of touring, and we’ve got an audience of sixties and seventies music fans crammed in to the Theatre Royal tonight, with an excited feel as the group takes to the stage.
Predictably launching straight into ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, the guys portraying Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi are handsome, suited and sharp. Full of dance steps and smiles, and the audience are right there with them on that score. The place is alive.
“Quickly in to the hits”
Backed by a fabulous four-piece band, the boys are quickly in to the hits. ‘Lets Hang On’, ‘Working My Way Back To You’ and ‘Rag Doll’, with the audience singing along to every word.
My mum’s with me tonight, as The Four Seasons were one of her favourite groups in her twenties. She’s got a beaming grin across her face. She’s singing and clapping along too; if this is a good enough start to the night for her, it’s a good enough start for anyone.
In between most of the songs, the group give us snippets of the history of The Four Seasons, which lead us nicely in to the tunes. ‘Peanuts’ is a bit of a curve ball that I don’t think anyone watching for the first time was expecting. That song was a hastily written one when the group performed as The Wonder Who, with the on-stage group purposefully getting the steps slightly out of time to highlight that this was at a time when they weren’t so polished. And, frankly, the songs from that time are probably best forgotten!
We’re getting the greatest of The Four Seasons tonight. And the group are handling the full range of notes and pitch really well. They’re talented guys, and not just when it comes to singing.
Interaction with the audience is fantastic too. They tell us how they had a wander round Wakefield today, and ate some fine food from an establishment called Greggs. Their trip to Primark in the Ridings Shopping Centre is another story which brings a few giggles too.
It’s a real feel-good evening, and it’s a testament to the talents of great songwriting. Teenagers, twenty-somethings, middle-agers and pensioners. And all of us are loving ‘Sherry’, ‘Walk Like A Man’, ‘Dawn’ and ‘The Night’. The tunes in Big Girls Don’t Cry still hold up today, and don’t go out of date.
As Nick Massi ambles in to the audience, he leads “Marlena” (from Sunderland) out of her seat and on to the stage. She’s not called Marlena, but it lets them serenade her with the song of the same name. That brings about a bit of semi-embarrassment, but she joins in and goes with the fun.
“Superb evening of entertainment”
The boys have mastered the New Jersey accent – they sound pretty authentic, and they’ve given us a superb evening of entertainment. They’re bringing back memories for most of the audience tonight, getting them to throw themselves back fifty years or so.
As the energetic show comes to an end, we get favourites ‘Grease’, ‘Bye Bye Baby’ and, to close, the crowd favourite ‘December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night)’ pleases every single one of us.
And oh what a night it’s been. People are still singing as we leave the theatre. The smiles still haven’t gone away. Big Girls Don’t Cry has hit the right notes tonight, as the Wakefield public are heading home happy.