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Review of Jersey Boys at Trafalgar Theatre 2023

Luke Suri. Credit Matt Crockett.
Luke Suri. Credit Matt Crockett.

You can certainly not accuse the new cast of Jersey Boys, now starting its third year in its current West End run, of lacking energy, enthusiasm and, especially, talent! This “jukebox” musical, telling the story of “Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons”, as they later became, dates from 2004, when composer and group member Bob Gaudio (Declan Egan) had the idea of using much of his back catalogue to reintroduce us to the nasal falsetto of Frankie Valli (Luke Suri).

After nineteen years, the book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice feels a tad dated, and, even when Valli hears some very bad news in Act Two, fails to find emotion and is often predictable.

But, most of us aren’t really there for the story! We have come to hear the songs, all 34 of them, as rendered by the latest “Four Seasons”, and we are not at all disappointed! Suri is a superb Frankie, looking the role, being able to act convincingly and above all sounding absolutely right! His moves are spot on and he is also very watchable.

As Gaudio, Egan has a terrific presence, sings well and dominates the stage whenever he is allowed! He is helped by his height, appearing to tower over everyone else on stage.

Tommy DeVito, the founder of the group and responsible, according to the script, for the massive debts the four incurred, is beautifully portrayed by Peter Nash: it is a shame that the script does not allow us to really empathise with nor loathe his character – it is written with too little motivation – but Nash, obviously realising this, appears, in role, not to care. Again, he has terrific charisma on stage.

Karl James Wilson plays the “Ringo Starr” role (his words not mine) of Nick Massi, rarely taking centre stage but again finding more in what he is given to say than might be thought possible. All four are magnificent when singing as a group.

 There is an excellent supporting cast of fourteen, plus one of the best bands (Ben Atkinson) I have heard for a long time – really stylish playing, especially from the drummer, Rob Parsons, and the sound (Howell Binkley) is never too loud, allowing us to hear not only the vocal arrangements (Ron Melrose) but also most of the words of the songs

The production itself seems to be a version of the original 2005 Broadway production – perhaps a completely new staging is called for next time around? – but the set (Klara Zieglerova) suits the Trafalgar Theatre well, even if it is surprisingly shallow, and the lighting (Howell Binkley) is imaginative and yet not obtrusive. The original costume designs (Jess Goldstein) are very evocative of the period, and there are many more than the red Jackets that one seems to see on a lot of the publicity!

This is an unashamedly “feel-good” show, which, apart from a hiatus during Covid, seems to have been running almost continuously in London and on tour since it arrived in the UK in 2008. It is slickly staged and directed (Des McAnuff) and superbly performed by an impressive cast – the sort of show that introduces newcomers to the pleasures of theatre-going, and that one leaves feeling relaxed and happy after a good night out! Recommended!

4 stars

Review by John Groves

They were just four guys from New Jersey, until they sang their very first note. They had a sound nobody had ever heard… and the radio just couldn’t get enough of. But while their harmonies were perfect on stage, off stage it was a very different story – a story that has made them an international sensation all over again.

From the streets of New Jersey to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this is the musical that’s too good to be true. The show is packed with the hits of The Four Seasons, including Beggin’, Sherry, Walk Like A Man, December, 1963 (Oh What a Night), Big Girls Don’t Cry, My Eyes Adored You, Let’s Hang On (To What We’ve Got), Bye Bye Baby, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Working My Way Back to You, Fallen Angel, Rag Doll and Who Loves You.

The original Grammy, Tony and Olivier award-winning smash-hit musical, Jersey Boys, celebrates its 18th birthday after opening on Broadway in 2005. This musical extravaganza goes behind the music and inside the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons in the true-life phenomenon and is currently booking until 28th January 2024.

The new cast from 26th July at the Trafalgar Theatre. Luke Suri as Frankie Valli and Karl James Wilson as Nick Massi continue their roles, with Peter Nash (Singin’ in the Rain UK tour) as Tommy De Vito and Declan Egan as Bob Gaudio, who previously played the role at the Piccadilly Theatre and on the UK tour, completing the Four Seasons.

Joining them will be Joey Cornish as Joe Pesci, Joseph Peters as Bob Crewe, Andy Barke as Gyp De Carlo, Kirsty Whelan as Mary Delgado, Oliver Tester as Norm Waxman/Hank Majewski, Jacob McIntosh as Barry Belson, Gracie Lai as Lorraine, Rosie Needham as Francine, Danny Knott, Bonnie Page, Olly Manley, Daniel Parkinson, Matthew Lawrence and Pearce Barron.

Jersey Boys
Listings Information:
Trafalgar Theatre, 14 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DY
Performance Schedule:
Monday, Wednesday – Saturday 7:30pm
Thursday & Saturday 2:30pm
Sunday 4:00pm

Christmas schedule:
As above with an additional matinee at 2:30pm on 20, 27 December and 3 January.
There are no performances on 24, 25 December and 1 January.

Tickets from £25

Related News & Reviews Past & Present

  1. Jersey Boys at Trafalgar Theatre | Review
  2. London Jersey Boys West End cast 2015
  3. Jersey Boys Returns to London Opening the new Trafalgar Theatre
  4. New Cast Announced for Jersey Boys in London’s West End
  5. New cast announced for Jersey Boys UK & IRELAND Tour from 18th August 2015

Author

  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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