From the snappy ’60s dance moves to Joe Pesci, here are eight things we love about Jersey Boys the musical – now showing at Piccadilly Theatre, London.
Earlier this spring Jersey Boys, a musical full of heart and humour that’s based on the real-life story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, celebrated eight years in London. Since opening at Prince Edward Theatre in 2008 and then moving to Piccadilly Theatre in 2014, it’s become one of the most popular shows in the West End.
This is no surprise considering Jersey Boys has racked up 57 major awards – including London’s Olivier for Best New Musical, along with Broadway’s Tony and Australia’s Helpmann for Best Musical. But the hefty award count isn’t the only thing that attracts audiences.
There’s just something mesmerising about watching these four lads from the wrong side of the tracks struggle to make it as a band. In the ’60s the Four Seasons essentially went from living a life of poverty and petty crime to selling millions of records worldwide. Who doesn’t love that kind of a rags-to-riches story?
Since arriving in London Jersey Boys has undergone some changes. Most recently the show welcomed four new leads and several other new cast members. It now features Matt Corner as Frankie Valli (he does an amazing job of capturing the singer’s formidable falsetto), in addition to Simon Bailey as Tommy DeVito, Declan Egan as Bob Gaudio and Matt Hunt as Nick Massi.
Yet there’s a lot you can expect to remain the same no matter when you see Jersey Boys. So in honour of the feel-good, tune-filled show’s big eighth anniversary, we’re sharing eight of our favourite things about it.
1. The Narration
It’s just so clever. Jersey Boys is divided into four parts: spring, summer, autumn and winter. At the beginning of each season, a different member of the Four Seasons introduces himself to the audience and then recounts that period of the band’s bumpy path to stardom. What’s more, each believes he is the one responsible for their success.
2. The Dance Moves
The choreography is such a delight. In the early days, when the group was known as the Four Lovers, you’ll see ape-inspired moves – and a gorilla mask! When they evolve into the Four Seasons and the hits start rolling in, their dancing becomes more precise and their attitude more confident. We love the distinct side-to-side step with the right hand swinging and fingers snapping in Sherry. Or how about the signature tippy-toe lift, sway, lean and arm pump in Walk Like a Man? We bet you can’t help but grin (and maybe even bop in your seat) while watching them.
3. The Staging
The set doesn’t look like much when the curtain first rises. There’s a stairway leading to an elevated walkway that wraps around half the stage. What’s cool is how this contraption comes to symbolise the comings and goings of people in Frankie’s life. There are happy arrivals, sad departures and, well, a whole lot of prison sentences served.
4. Joe Pesci
Yes, you’ve read that correctly. Pesci is a New Jersey native. Long before he starred in films like Goodfellas (for which he won an Oscar), Casino and My Cousin Vinny, he hung out with these guys and, believe it or not, played a crucial role in the band’s formation.
5. The Mob
Thanks to characters in Jersey Boys like Angelo “Gyp” DeCarlo from the Genovese family, the mob always seems to be lingering on the periphery. And who doesn’t enjoy a story with mafia ties? Enough said.
6. The Ladies
When you hear the title of the show you naturally think of men, but Jersey Boys also boasts three amazing actresses who play more female roles than we can count. You’ll see Nicola Brazil, Nicky Griffiths and Helen Ternent embody everyone from Frankie’s wife, girlfriend and daughter to waitresses, floosies and The Angels (the girl band of My Boyfriend’s Back fame).
7. The Video
People went crazy for the Four Seasons as they hit their peak with 16 top 40 hits in the US between 1962 and 1964. During the show cameras project the actors live onstage via giant video screens along with real footage of screaming fans from that bygone era.
8. The Music
This is a no-brainer. Even if you don’t know the titles, you’ll know these songs. Jersey Boys had us with the playful lyrics of the Four Seasons’ first No.1 hit: “Sher…er…er…ry, baby, Sherry, baby; Sher…ry, can you come out tonight? Come, come…come out tonight”. From then on, it’s just an ongoing parade of chart-topping music. Let’s see, there’s Big Girls Don’t Cry, Rag Doll, Working My Way Back You, Who Loves You and so many more. Oh, What a Night it is!
Get tickets now for Jersey Boys at Ticketmaster.co.uk, currently booking at the Piccadilly Theatre until April 2017.