Jersey Boys – Review – Bradford Alhambra
By Sandra Callard, March 2022
“Oh, What a Night!” – and oh my! it certainly was at Bradford Alhambra when the stage opened to the music of the Four Seasons, aka The Jersey Boys, and their every song swept the theatre goers smack bang into the 1960s. Even those who weren’t around then were on their feet, clapping and singing to the inimitable sound of these unforgettable songs.
At the first strain of ‘Sillhouettes’ the audience was clapping and swaying, and the memories came flooding back. And what numbers they were! ‘I Can’t Give You Anything But Love’, ‘Earth Angel’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ and dozens of other beautiful and catchy songs that came from the pen of songwriter Bob Gaudio, brilliantly played by Blair Gibson, came floating across the packed house. Hands were clapping, heads were swaying and feet were tapping as these long ago songs and music filled the theatre.
Three of the four Boys who formed the original band were from tough neighbourhoods and had all been in trouble with the police, some ended up with jail sentences, but their love of music and their hopes to start a band was always spinning around in their heads, and was perhaps their salvation from further crime.
The Voice that always mattered was that of the incredible singer, Frankie Valli, an Italian born lad whose extraordinary voice led the boys to success. He is played with tonight with incredible charm and gusto by Luke Suri. The boy who started the band, Tommy DeVito, a great singer in his own right, was flawed by his continual incursions into crime, and eventually left the team, but the genius of Bob Gaudio’s strength and organisation was the key to the original Four Seasons’ success. And a huge success it was. Even now, the songs and the music strike a cord that, whether or not you were there in that era, summon up a time gone by that is, nevertheless, totally relevant to today. The songs hold a joy and a strength that recall up an era when freedom, fun and music were not just a token of the time, but a necessity of living.
The stage sets were fast, clever and completely relevant to the times, and the Costume Designer, Jess Goldstein did not put a foot wrong. The smart but sexy clothing of the boys looked superb, and added to the total effect of the era. Their beautifully and exact body movements when singing were exactly right, and there was never a single falter to marr the movements.
The production did not flinch at including the flaws and problems of the successful quartet. As their popularity grew, so did their problems with each other, especially with Tommy DeVito, who eventually left the band. But he was replaced and they went on to even more stupendous success.
This show has one hundred percent caught the feeling, the joy and the innovations of the 1960s, as The Jersey Boys encapsulate the American Dream and go on to conquer the charts at home and across the world.
The show is a joyful, original and thoughtful representation of the music of many years ago, and if the quality of the songs is ever under question, just look at the modern theatre goers as they stream to see this wonderful and evocative musical, and who leave the theatre with beaming smiles on their faces.