Prince Edward Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue
Oh What a Night!With Liverpool not in the Champions League Final there was only one thing to do on the night when the two teams that I despise most went head to head to become Champions of Europe – and that was go to the theatre! Well, as I didn’t want either of them to win, which sadly wasn’t an option under FIFA rules, the only remedy was to do something else completely.
And what could have been more different than The Jersey Boys - a musical biography of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.
This show has had a lot of coverage on various TV shows so I was keen to see it, but, not being a big fan of Juke Box musicals I was reluctant to shell out for it. So when I was invited by a PR company, Mr K and I were only too happy to accept - the date was just a bonus!
And we were so glad we did, for we were treated to a great musical experience. Instead of this being a string of hits, loosely held together by a flimsy plot, The Jersey Boys is more like Buddy because it actually tells you a decent story. Yes the plot is still a mechanism between the hits but for someone like me who wasn't familiar with the Four Seasons story, I was hooked to the end. And unlike Buddy, where you know at the start what's going to happen, I didn't know what the denouement would be.
But while the story is interesting and followed the Italian-American boys from New Jersey from their beginnings, through their hits and their connections with the mob, the music was sensational. As the four leads sung their way through hits such as 'I Can't Give You Anything', 'Sherry', 'Big Girls Don't Cry' 'Walk Like a Man' and 'Can't Take My Eyes Off of You' the toes tapped with increasing frequency.
The leads were highly competent. Ryan Molloy gives an excellent imitation of Frankie’s distinctive and high pitched voice and is a strange combination of charisma, sexual magnetism and weed! It’s an excellent performance, as was that of Stephen Ashfield as Bob Gaudio. I was particularly delighted to see Stephen who I had last interviewed and then watched on stage about four years ago when he played Jack in the Watford Palace’s production of Mother Goose! He had brought tears of joy to my eyes when he sang ‘Never Forget’ – something that is not supposed to happen while watching a panto – and it was a real pleasure to hear more of his voice – especially in Oh What a Night! It certainly was!
Glenn Carter is handsome bad boy Tommy DeVito, the dodgy one who starts the band off and then nearly destroys it and Philip Bulcock is wonderful as “the Ringo of the band”, the one who never seems entirely comfortable with the whole set up. It's all sung, danced and staged well and the whole ensemble are well drilled.
This may not be Shakespeare, Ibsen or Blood Brothers (the king of musicals in my book) but it's lively, enjoyable and takes your mind off the football, so may be a perfect andedote to England's non-appearance in Euro 2008!
On heading out into the London night air and picking our way through the mound of those lethal carriage-on-the-back-of-bikes things (who GETS IN one of those?!) we completely forgot to find out who won the big game! In fact, it was only as we heard a chant of 'United' that our hearts sank. Does that mean we wanted Chelsea to win? No way, so we just concentrated on humming our way across Waterloo Bridge!
It had been an excellent evening and as proof I am now the proud owner of Best of The Four Seasons CD - who'd have thought?!