REVIEW: JERSEY BOYS @ THE TRAFALGAR THEATRE
🎭 Jersey Boys
📍 Trafalgar Theatre, 14 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2DY
🗓 Monday 21st November 2022
OH, WHAT A SHOW!
There are some shows that I can return to again and again, and Jersey Boys is one of them! From the very first moment to the final bows, this high-energy fast-paced show never disappoints.
Kevin Fullinck explodes onto the stage to lead the company in the opening number of Ces Soirées-La, and sets an electric atmosphere in the theatre which lasts the entirety of the show. Fullinck appears as various characters throughout and has an incredible voice which, in my opinion, is underused. I would love to see him in the lead role of Frankie Valli one day. Could Fullinck be the first person of colour to portray the singer? I think so.
Jersey Boys is the story of The Four Seasons, and is cleverly told by being broken down into separate seasons, with a different character leading and narrating each season.
Benjamin Yates as Tommy De Vito leads us through the Spring, and the birth of the group. Here we see the early struggles of the group as well as their brushes with the law. We also see Frankie join the group and become lead singer.
Yates gives a strong and convincing performance as De Vito. Even though he's not the sort of character you'd like to meet in real life, Yates brings a warmth and likeability to him. Even when De Vito leaves the group with a million dollar debt, you almost feel sorry for him. He also has a good singing voice.
As we transition to Summer, we meet Bob Gaudio who takes over the narration. Bob became the song writer and is responsible for hits such as Sherry, Walk Like a Man and Big Girls Don't Cry. This part is portrayed by Adam Bailey. As someone who has seen many different casts over the years, I have to say that Bailey is perfect for this role. An absolute genius bit of casting. He portrays the young Bob's innocence with believable beauty and you really see his character grow. He also has a stunning singing voice and gives the performance of the first act with his rendition of Cry For Me.
Act 2 moves into the Autumn of the story. After the huge success the group has enjoyed, this is where we witness everything come crashing down.
Bass player Nick Massi now takes over the narration. He has been part of the group from the start but until now has kept relatively quiet. Matthew Goodgame gives a great performance as Nick and I love his transition from being in the background and letting things wash over him, to when he lets loose and lets out 10 years of frustration in one go! Goodgame's vocal tone is beautiful to listen to and adds a depth to the performances.
The final season is Winter (obviously!) and this is where Frankie Valli takes on the storytelling duties. We see him lose a daughter and his relationship break down. With the original group now disbanded, he performs as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons as well as releasing songs as a solo artist. Luke Suri gives an epic performance as Frankie. He rips your heart out with his wonderful performance of Fallen Angel and tears the roof off the theatre when he sings Can't Take My Eyes off of You. He is an extremely expressive performer which allows you into the soul of the character, which is glorious to witness.
The entire cast put in fantastic performances, with not a weak link amongst them. Huon Mackley is domineering as Gyp DeCarlo and Joey Cornish is cutely excitable as Joe Pesci. Yes, that Joe Pesci!
Joseph Peters was fabulously camp as Bob Crewe and Tom Oliver put in a strong performance as Norm Waxman.
That's the Jersey Boys, but it's important not to forget the Jersey Girls! Carolyn Maitland gave a convincing performance as Mary Delgado and we see beyond her tough exterior to the sensitive soul beneath. Rosie Needham is touching as Francine and Gracie Lai is fantastic as Lorraine. Lai is joyeous to watch and I was drawn to her whenever she was on stage as she just looked like she was having the time of her life up there. The three of them gave a wonderful performance of My Boyfriend's Back.
This show is a rollercoaster of a jukebox musical and is so much fun. There's a real party atmosphere at the end when the entire audience are on their feet singing and dancing.
This must be one of the hardest working companies in the West End and I want to give a special mention to the swings. I have seen Elliot Allinson, Jack Campbell and Andy Smith all perform in the production and they have all given brilliant performances. I have never once been disappointed to walk in the theatre and see that a cover is performing because with this company, you know you're in safe hands and are going to be treated to an unforgettable night.
Funnily enough though, I am yet to see Karl James Wilson as Nick! This was my fifth visit to the Trafalgar Theatre to see Jersey Boys and it has been a cover playing the role of Nick every time! It's ok though because it gives me an excuse to book a ticket and go to the show again, not that I really need one! Plus, I am a great supporter of swings/covers/understudies and I enjoy watching them perform.
Jersey Boys is currently booking at the Trafalgar Theatre until April 2023 and there is also a production touring the UK until May 2023. All information for London and the tour can be found at www.jerseyboysmusical.co.uk where you can also book tickets.
All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest and free from influence.
Left to right: Adam Bailey; Luke Suri; Benjamin Yates; Karl James Wilson