culture latest news
Jersey Boys – The Civic Theatre – Auckland
Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons has landed in Auckland. This Tony Award winning musical is currently running at The Civic Theatre and is a must see.
I was so excited about watching this show not only as a fan of the music but also as it’s such a hugely acclaimed production.
One of the reason Jersey Boys has been so successful was the lack of general knowledge around the group, and their lives, so it is a fresh tale for all, as well as having the authenticity of a real story with all the twists and turns that life brings.
The story is dramatised through a documentary style of character narration, and of course their well-known hits, from the formation, rise and indeed fall of the original four members of The Four Seasons - Tommy DeVito (Anthony Harkin), Bob Gaudi (Declan Egan), Nick Massi (Glaston Toft) and Frankie Valli (in this performance played by Graham Foote).
The show kicks off with New Zealand’s own Vince Harder performing "Ces soirées-là" the adapted French Version of ‘Oh What a Night’ released in 2000, which became one of France’s bestselling singles of all time.
Our first narrator for the night is Tommy DeVito (Anthony Harkin) and he is a loveable Jersey bad boy who discovers Frankie and takes him under his wing beginning the Jersey Boys journey. Each of the members of the group gets their turn to narrate and all add their own perspective and personality in to the piece. I definitely had a soft spot for Tommy , the man who Nick Massi later refers to as ‘not properly socialised’, Anthony’s performance is fantastic and full of energy and emotion.
This show is incredible funny and quick witted and the colourful language aids this but is never offensive or gratuitous. Some other adult themes are shown which is why this show is advised for 12 years and over. There are some great comedy moments from producer Bob Crew played by Michael Griffiths and many quotable one liners too.
The hits are used to both experience a live Four Seasons performance and to help narrate and express the emotions of the story, which was especially notable for ‘My Eyes Adored You’ and ‘Bye Bye Baby’. You will however be in awe of how many great songs these guys had and all the big hits feature including; ‘Who Loves You’ ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ ‘Sherry’ and ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ to name a few.
The first thing you will notice off stage is the audience will sing, clap and foot tap throughout the show, in fact I dare you not to. If you think you don’t know the music of the Four Seasons then this show will prove you wrong. This show is also a great one for people who may not normally go to the theatre.
The pace of the show is phenomenal and is made possible by the simple, but effective set. The clever scene changes are so smooth and swift that you are never distracted from the action, as they are done while the spotlight is on the character narrating. I loved the use of big bright signs and large pop art screens as the changing backdrops of the set.
My favourite set changes where when we were transported to the Four Seasons live gigs or Television performances, it’s just amazing how much atmosphere they can create resulting in woops and cheers from the audience. The dance routines were spot on and perfectly synced.
Of course I must mention the singing. There is not enough praise for how great these guys are as performers. Graham Foote as Frankie did an extraordinary job throughout and especially in the second half where he has number after number and all note perfect, not to mention his perfect mimicry of Frankie’s unique voice. This is an extremely demanding show for all so the cast all deserve the many rounds of applause, whistles and cheers that we gave them. You will live, breath and sing along with this story.
As I left the theatre singing and smiling I really could find no fault in this show. The fact that it’s around the true life stories of these four blue-collar men from Jersey and the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of their amazing journey to success, with authentic Jersey language too, really makes it the ‘Goodfellas’ of Musical Theatre( especially with Joe Pesci as one of its producers!).
Ingrid Grenar 13 April 2012
Photos Jeff Busby from www.jerseyboysnz.co.nz