This week sees the hit musical Jersey Boys it North Wales and Venue Cymru.
If you are a fan of Frankie Valli or just want an upbeat night out then this show is a must as it brings you hit after hit of the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame group whose music has been loved by millions for decades and sold 175 million records before any of the four turned 30 years old.
The show is based around the hits produced by Bob Guadio, the song writer, and sung by the legendary Frankie Valli.
Act One starts with “Ces soirées-là”, a modern pop-rap song that was released in 2000, is performed. Tommy DeVito arrives, introduces himself and explains how the song is a cover of The Four Seasons’ “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)”.
The act tells the story of how during the early years Nick Massi helped train Frankie to sing as Tommy went in and out of prison. Frankie changed his last name to Valli at this point.
Musically, the band was struggling during this time and kept changing their name and sound but without any dramatic success. One day friend and fellow Jersey boy Joe Pesci comes up to Tommy and says that he knows a singer-songwriter who’d make the perfect fourth for their band: Bob Gaudio.
Bob Gaudio takes over the narration in Act Two, telling the audience that no matter what Tommy says, he was not plucked from obscurity by him, since he already had a hit single with “Short Shorts”.
Bob goes with Joe Pesci to see the band perform, and is immediately impressed by Frankie’s voice. Bob performs a song he’d just written: “Cry for Me” on piano, which Frankie, Nick Massi and then Tommy joining in with vocals, bass and guitar respectively.
They negotiate an agreement, though Tommy is at first sceptical that Bobby, then still a teenager, will be good for the band. The band eventually get a contract with producer Bob Crewe but only to sing back-up (“Backup Sessions”).
Crewe insists that the band has an “identity crisis” and needs to make a firm decision on a name and a sound. The band names themselves after The Four Seasons bowling alley, and Bobby writes them three songs that finally propel them to stardom: “Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man”.
The show also tells the audience about the bands personally firsts including Bob losing his virginity (“December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)”).
The band’s success means that they tour a lot more, along the way discovering the girl band The Angels (“My Boyfriend’s Back”). Unfortunately, the constant touring strains Frankie’s marriage to Mary, and they eventually divorce (“My Eyes Adored You”).
The band continues to enjoy chart successes (“Dawn (Go Away)”) until after a concert the band is approached by a loan shark out to claim money owed by Tommy (“Walk Like a Man (reprise)”).
Nick Massi then takes over as Narrator explaining that Bob was so focused on the band’s musical success and future that he could not see that the band had been in trouble for some time. Tommy had been racking up debts and a forgotten bill during a previous tour lands the band in jail over the weekend, which strains things between Tommy and Bob (“Big Man in Town”).
Nick observes that Tommy became jealous of Frankie’s success and closeness with Bobby, and attempted to seduce Frankie’s new girlfriend Lorraine. The two never confronted each other about it, but the old friendship was not what it used to be.
When the loan shark approaches the band for the $150,000 owed by Tommy, Frankie goes to Gyp DeCarlo for help despite Tommy’s insistence that he doesn’t need it (“Beggin'”). The band, Gyp, and the loan shark come to agreement that Tommy is to be “sequestered” in Las Vegas where the mob can keep an eye on him and the band will willingly cover the debt, along with an additional half a million in unpaid taxes that Tommy kept hidden from the group.
At this time, Nick declares that he’s tired of everything and wants out (“Stay/Let’s Hang On!”).
In the final few scenes Frankie takes over narration, explaining that though he owes Tommy a great deal, he is aware that their relationship was not ideal. Frankie and Bob find replacements to keep the band a quartet (“Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me)”) until Bobby announces that he has never been comfortable in the spotlight and that Frankie should be a single performer. This brings the beginning of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
Jersey Boys also charts the personal life of Frankie and his relationship with his daughter Francine. Throughout the years the relationship is strained and he breaks up with girlfriend Lorraine (“Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby, Goodbye)”).
Frankie continues to have success thanks to Bobby’s songs, and hits jackpot with “C’mon Marianne” and the almost-never-released “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” which Bobby fights to get airplay for.
Along with the success of “Working My Way Back to You”, Frankie and Bobby finally finish paying off Tommy’s debts, and Frankie’s life is good until his daughter Francine dies from a drug overdose (“Fallen Angel”)
The last scene shows Bob Crewe describing The Four Seasons’ 1990 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This moment reunited the original four members on stage one last time (“Rag Doll”).
Each member takes a moment to address the audience in turn, explaining his pride at having been with the band and briefly notes what he did afterwards (“Who Loves You”).
Jersey Boys opened in London in 2008 and has been seen by nearly 23 million people worldwide.
Now celebrating its eighth year in London, it is firmly established as one of the West End’s longest-running and most popular shows.
A brilliant performance by all four lead roles saw Matt Corner as playing the legendary Frankie Valli, Ste Clough as Bob Guadio, Lewis Griffiths as Nick Massi and Stephen Webb as Tommy DeVito.
A first class show that during their stay in North Wales is bound to be taken into the hearts of everyone that goes to see the show.
Jersey Boys is at Venue Cymru until November 21st and tickets can be booked online at http://www.venuecymru.co.uk, by phoning 01492 872000 or by calling into the box office.