The Prince Edward Theatre in Soho has three major things going for it. One, it has an outdoor balcony attached to the dress circle bar (see pic), two, it is stunningly beautiful, and three, and this is the real clincher, it is home to Jersey Boys, the musical story of “Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons“.
Brief story overview: after numerous early name-changes and incarcerations at what we would call “at Her Majesty’s pleasure”, the fledgling band, started by Tommy DeVito (Ben Wheeler at this performance) and Nick Massi (Eugene McCoy), really start to take off when introduced to a young Bob Gaudio (Matthew Wycliffe) by Joe Pesci. Yes, that Joe Pesci. Gaudio had already tasted chart success with “(Who Wears) Short Shorts” and immediately becomes the band’s songwriter and keyboard player.
Many years and many hits later (and more of THAT later) the band are into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Simple. Erm, no. Mob connections and tax disputes aside, this is the rockiest of rocky roads.
The hits arrive and then keep coming via the creative genius of Gaudio and the golden tonsils of Frankie. The man himself, played by ex-S Club 7 star Jon Lee, is brilliant, displaying a vocal range and control that is simply stunning. Valli’s character is flawed in many ways, not least of all his relationship with his wife and daughter, and Lee portrays this with great sensitivity. Hugely impressive. “Walk like a man”, “Sherry”, “Beggin'” and “Can’t take my eyes off you” are possibly the songs you’ll know best but there’s more. So much more. And them some.
The whole cast are brilliant and the four principles peerless. My son particularly liked Eugene McCoy’s Massi, and I have to agree. McCoy provides humour, drama and sincerity in equal measure. “I think I wanna start my own group” is his mantra.
Maybe he should on this showing!
There is so much to admire here; incredible music, dance routines and an amazing story – “triple threat” from a cast of actors and actresses who complement each other perfectly. I don’t think you’ll find a better night out anywhere in Town. Do let me know if you do. I’ll be there in spades.
Reviewed by Lewis Polden who went along to see the show with his son Harry. You can follow both on Twitter – @lewpol and @LittleVicomte
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Content updated 15th April 2014