Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – until 01st January 2022 then Nationwide
Reviewed by Joanne Hodge
The music of the The Four Seasons is woven through the memories of my childhood. My parents were teenagers at the height of the bands’ fame, and as such their LP’s were regularly on the record player in our house, or on the cassette player in the car on our Sunday seaside trips.
Oasis are the band of my teenage years, and you’d think that they are the epitome of ‘rock and roll’ with their infighting and off-stage antics, but don’t let the look of these four smooth, suited-and-booted Jersey Boys fool you – they were creating great songs and behind the scenes dramas long before the Gallaghers’ were born.
The show tells the story behind Tommy [Dalton Wood], Nick [Lewis Griffiths], Bob [Blair Gibson] and of course Frankie [Luke Suri] – four American-Italian boys from Jersey and their journey between the wrong side of the tracks and fortune and fame. A line which is often burred and crossed – especially for loveable rogue Tommy.
Confirming that well-known adage that there’s three sides to every story; yours, theirs and the truth, we get to see how money and success can change people and situations, and not always for the better.
From the opening bars of scene one, I was hooked, and I’m confident I can say the same for the rest of the auditorium too. All ages were present, something I was glad to see, as you’d usually find younger patrons at panto at this time of year. Older members of the crowd swayed and bobbed along to tunes that reminded them of times gone by, with teenagers nodding in recognition as they realised that so much of today’s music has been influenced by The Four Seasons. Pretty sure some only learnt today that Beggin’ was not a Madcon original!
The songs felt ageless thanks to Steve Canyon Kennedy [Sound], and whilst the steps the Boys are known for were historically accurate, Sergio Trujillo’s choreography made it fresh for the more modern audience. I was particularly impressed by design team Klara Zieglerova and Michael Clark, who seamlessly joined old and new, with both projections of original 1960’s crowd footage alongside pop art graphics spattered throughout, which both reenforced a change of scene or a particular line or lyric.
Jill Green’s casting is PHENOMENAL! Every single character jumps straight off the stage and in to your heart, but Luke Suri’s Frankie will surely steal it. I was astonished to discover that this is his theatre debut. He is every inch the professional, and you felt safe and secure in his interpretation of the role. It must be so difficult to capture the essence and sound of someone so famous, but he did it with ease. Had I closed my eyes, I could have easily believed I was back sitting on my parents floor with that old record player going. I”m not sure I’ve ever seen a full-on standing ovation midway through an act of a matinee performance, but Luke received one, and it was every-bit deserved.
I must give one other special mention, and that’s for Damien Winchester [Barry and others], who stole every scene he was in with perfect comic-timing and characterisation.
I could go on and on about this fantastic show, but all I will say is .. Oh what a night! Make sure you don’t pass up an opportunity to see it.