Oh What a Night! Based on the true-life story of four guys from the wrong side of the tracks who rose to fame as The Four Seasons, to become one of the most successful bands in pop music history, Jersey Boys was given a resounding welcome back to Sydney by an enthusiastic capacity audience on opening night. And no wonder.
Jersey Boys has a score fashioned from songs which sold 175 million records worldwide, among them Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, Walk Like a Man, Big Girls Don’t Cry” and the song that stopped the show on opening night, Sherry. It has a compelling story told in four parts (or seasons), from the selective recollections and perspectives of each member of the band.
It has a terrific cast led by Ryan Gonzalez as Frankie Valli, Cameron MacDonald, as Tommy DeVito, Thomas McGuane as Bob Gaudio, and Glaston Toft as Nick Massi, the four young men from New Jersey, who between bouts in prison, become The Four Seasons, and who eventually ended up being inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
Tommy DeVito gets to tell his side of the story first, and Cameron MacDonald is brilliant as the rat-cunning, likeable con-man who claims credit for the quartet. Thomas McGuane makes an impressive career debut as the smooth, charismatic composer, Bob Gaudio, who contradicts DeVito’s version, and eventually out-maneuvers De Vito for control of the group.
Returning in the role of Nick Massi, which he played in the original Australian production, Glaston Toft brought the house down with his dummy-spit about having to share a room on tour with DeVito.
But its Frankie Valli’s distinctive falsetto voice which separates The Four Seasons from their competitors, and on opening night Ryan Gonzalez, a rather serious Valli, nailed the sound with laser beam accuracy, raising the hairs on the back of the neck, as the band discovers the sound which will propel it to fame, if not fortune.
Under Des McAnuff’s direction, the show moves along at an exhilarating pace. Set pieces slide in and out, the multiple costume changes are accomplished almost imperceptibly as the characters move between the key moments depicting the various events which led to the rise and eventual disintegration of the original The Four Seasons.
Snappy, tightly rehearsed choreography, a string of instantly recognizable songs, a red-hot band and a well-cast, talented supporting cast add to the excitement. Cristina D’Agostino, who plays Valli’s first wife, Mary Delgado, and together with Mia Dabkowski-Chandler and McKenzie Dunn, miraculously recreate all the other women in their lives, is a stand-out.
Enrico Mammarella as the sentimental crime boss, Gyp DeCarlo, and Glenn Hill as the shrewd record producer, Bob Crewe, both impress as they join Luigi Lucente, Scott McConnell, Josh Mulheran and Rutene Spooner to create the army of other male characters necessary to the telling this remarkable journey.
Watching this iteration of Jersey Boys, it’s easy to see why this show has remained such a trailblazer in the bio-musical oeuvre. This mint-condition production will provide a whole new generation with the opportunity to become swept up in a timeless show about four guys from the wrong side of the tracks who learned how to make beautiful music.
Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons
Capitol Theatre, 13 Campbell Street, Haymarket (Sydney)
Performance: Thursday 6 September 2018
Season continues to 9 December 2018
Following its Sydney season, Jersey Boys plays QPAC, Brisbane from 2 January (opening night – Saturday 5 January) and Regent Theatre, Melbourne from 23 February 2019 (opening night – Saturday 2 March). For more information, visit: www.jerseyboys.com.au for details.
Image: Thomas McGuane, Ryan Gonzalez, Cameron MacDonald and Glaston Toft star in Jersey Boys – photo by Jeff Busby
Review: Bill Stephens OAM