Image courtesy of the Edinburgh Playhouse.
The Edinburgh Playhouse
Jersey Boys, having recently finished its run at the Playhouse Theatre, is a musical which has been touring America since 2004. In Edinburgh, one of the destinations on its first, hugely successful UK tour, this success was exemplified by a standing ovation at the end of a production that knocked it out of the park in terms of vocals, innovative storytelling and great musical arrangement.
The show tells the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons: how they formed as a rock ‘n’ roll band, their relationships with one another and their eventual break-up following great success in the 1960s. At the heart of the show are the hugely popular songs that became the soundtrack of a generation but still hold great relevance today. For example, in the second act when Valli is told that his daughter Francine has died following a drug overdose, ‘Bye Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye)’ starts to play, with Valli joining in this melancholy serenade. These songs are integrated into the show perfectly, and all the most popular songs that an audience would come to the show expecting to hear are included.
This builds up to the classic ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ which, almost unbelievably, was almost never recorded and released due to the record company feeling that it did not fit with the band’s typical sound.
The story of The Four Seasons is delivered, in turns, by each of the four members. This original and unusual method of paying tribute to the band’s legacy was hit upon by the show’s creators when they called one of the band members, Tommy DeVito, who told them: “Don’t listen to [Frankie and the others]; I’ll tell you what really happened.” Shortly after, they decided to show not only the four varying versions of events, but also chose to demonstrate chronologically how the band’s music evolved, becoming more rich and musically sophisticated.
It is easy to understand why this musical is a hit; it pulls no punches in delivering hit songs alongside a cohesive narrative. Jersey Boys takes the audience on the emotional arc of all four members of the band, introducing, often with a sense of light irony, the different emotional perspectives.
A huge amount of credit goes to the two actors playing Frankie, who have clearly dedicated themselves to a role which requires a tremendous vocal range and commitment to vocal training. This is a hugely enjoyable musical; an amalgamation of nostalgia–inducing, ingenious classics from the original rock ‘n’ roll era of the 1960s combined with an engaging and multifaceted delivery of the band’s history. Together this produces a fantastic tribute to Frankie Valli and The Four Season’ music.