Jersey Boys – Review – Bradford Alhambra

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jersey boys alhambra 2018

Jersey Boys – Review

Bradford Alhambra, May 2018

by Steve Crabtree – @stevecrab

I was brought up in a house where a Frankie Valli and/or the Four Seasons LP was regularly spinning round on the record player. Like my mum, a fan of the group, Jersey Boys is a musical that for some reason I hadn’t yet seen. But with the UK tour arriving in Bradford this week, working my way to the Alhambra was a must.

The night begins to turn our heads around with the French rap version of ‘December 1963 (Oh What A Night)’ (‘Ces Soirees-La’), a number one hit in France in 2000. Then, the unsurprisingly full house take a ride through the pages of more than just a songbook.

jersey boys alhambra 2018

“Memorable Times”

The remarkable true story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons could have been penned as a drama all of its own. One of the most successful bands in pop history, their rise to stardom had its triumphs and its traumas. Seeing how the group came together was a nice opener to Jersey Boys. Leader Tommy DeVito taking a young Valli under his wing, and Valli and Nick Massey persuading DeVito that Bob Gaudio was the last piece of the jigsaw.

But there was many a struggle to deal with – and that was executed nicely in the show. Debt, drinking, cutting a first record all lent some powerful tension in to the upbeat show, whilst the boys talents grew and created some memorable times. And handshakes.

It was enjoyable to see a cast that clicked really well too. A perfect choice for the group. Lewis Griffiths, seemingly a master of a multitude of facial expressions, played the role of Nick Massi superbly. Declan Egan’s portrayal of the often wet, but undeniably genius Bob Gaudio was a contender for performance of the night.

Simon Bailey’s Tommy De Vito was excellent, with humour and anger oozing out of him, and Michael Watson’s Frankie Valli saw him play the naive teenager to the world-class star to a tee. He’d perfected Valli’s vocals, and not one of them dropped the New Jersey accent throughout the whole two-and-a-half hours.

jersey boys alhambra 2018 valli

“Spoiled for numbers”

It was one of those shows where the time was passing too fast. And with a back catalogue of multilple hits, we were spoiled for numbers. ‘Sillouettes’, ‘I’m In The Mood For Love’ and ‘Cry For Me’ accompanied ‘Sherry’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ and ‘Walk Like A Man’. And as the group headed for city lights, the 22 song-strong first act came to a close.

Act two didn’t let up on the songs either. Classics like ‘Stay’, ‘Let’s Hang On’, ‘Working My Way Back To You’ and ‘Fallen Angel’ all hit the spot. The latter accompanying a sad time for Valli, and perfectly pairing with the emotion.

Despite my initial reservation about the back drop being a little basic at first; the scenery was subtle and just right.  With such a well written and performed show; the story and the songs it didn’t need anything over the top. The injection of lighting and props was spot on.

jersey boys review alhambra 2018

“A well-oiled, slick show”

In all, we’d be treated to 34 songs. An apologetic section of the programme listed another 19 songs all worthy of being included, but omitted because there simply wasn’t room.

I found myself gripped in parts, and tested emotionally in others. But I was singing along to pretty much every number in the show too. My mum still is!

If the show had to end, it did so on a huge high. The entire cast performing the 70s disco hit Who Loves You which has the audience up and dancing to their goodbyes.

Jersey Boys is a well-oiled, slick show that lives up to its solid reputation. From Broadway to the West End and to Bradford, it’s obvious why people go home enthusing about the show. There’s a balance of humour, emotion, great songs and probably more grit than you’d expect.

It makes this undoubtedly one of the best musicals I’ve ever seen.

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