‘Jersey Boys’ was rockin’.
As COVID ravages its way across the country there is no better time to step out of the present and journey back to a time where the hair was bigger, the music better, and the world less interrupted. Delivered through the electrifying music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, ‘Jersey Boys’ takes you on a journey through the band’s triumphs and tribulations along their path to stardom and had the audience rocking and dancing in their seats. The music of The Four Seasons was iconic in its time and remains wildly popular to this very day. But before the creation of this 2004 smash-hit jukebox musical, the story behind their success was a lot less well known.
Presented by Legend House International, this adaptation of the musical was beautifully told, incredibly choreographed and sung marvellously. Director and leading performer Thomas Armstrong-Robley did an exquisite job of ensuring the story of each character was strongly told and the focus and emotion remained on their personal and professional growth. His collaboration with the set and lighting designers ensured the stage was full, but not overwhelming or distracting from the character development. And when combined with a very talented cast and the highly creative choreography by Jennifer Morison, his vision unfolded on stage with an enormous level of professionalism and artistic grace.
The lighting arrangement at the Star Casino never disappoints, and the design by Owen Forsythe lived up to the high expectations that audiences have come to expect from this theatre. Spotlights highlighted the individual members of the cast as they told of their plights and successes, and followspots were well controlled in keeping movement in focus. Coloured and moving light was well crafted during the musical numbers and created the perfect blend of storytelling and rock concert vibes. As a whole, the lighting design was one of the better elements of the show and could barely be faulted on its production values.
The soundscape on the other hand is where things fell over somewhat and left the audience wanting a little more. The mix for the opening scene was not well controlled and sounded hollow and distant. We were expecting a big opening number, but were instead left a little unravelled about how the rest of the production was going to follow. Luckily, this mix was an isolated issue and the audio design for the four lead performers was significantly better and without fault for the remainder of the show. There were a few technical hiccups throughout, with two lines of dialogue muted in their entirety and a few level adjustments that could have been better controlled.
The set design by Josh McIntosh was brilliant in its ability to look significant, but be relatively simplistic in its actual construction. The stage always looked full and the scene changes could be easily recognised by the performers movement over two constructed elements on either side of the stage, or from sets being lowered from the ceiling.
Shirley Whitehouse’s costumes were stunning and well thought out for the time period and style of the group. They were significant in number and elevated the performance as a whole, with the group being decked out in a range of suits and stunning dinner jackets.
Of course though, the quality of the show really comes down to its phenomenal casting and the beautiful voices from all of the performers.
Starring in the lead role of Frankie Valli, Bryn Jenke shone brighter than the sparkling dresses of his female counterparts and cemented himself as a powerhouse vocalist. Not only was he an incredible singer though, his ability to convincingly portray the character added significantly to the overall engagement of the show. In similar fashion, Thomas Armstrong-Robley was just as powerful in the role of Tommy DeVito and portrayed a character that was just as likeable as he was frustrating. He delivered the best voicework of the group that was backed by a singing voice that was just as beautiful. He was a strong character actor and presented scenes that made you not just witness his emotion, but truly feel it.
Jack Saunders as Bob Gaudio was a delight to watch and had that audience mesmerised from the moment he started singing, ‘Cry For Me.’ He gave us a strong character and while initially being introduced as the shy kid, he stood up for what he believed in and was not afraid to back himself and his abilities. Rounding out the lead roles was Elliot Baker as Nick Massi who worked superbly alongside his fellow Seasons. He seemed a little stiffer than the other leads, but this may have been a specific acting choice, or just opening night jitters. Even still, he was a brilliant performer and a very talented bass singer.
Dale Shearman somewhat stole the show with his hilarious interpretation of Bob Crewe and had the audience in stitches every time he opened his highly characterised mouth. On a similar note, Adrian Carr was just as entertaining in his handful of roles, most notably as Gyp Decarto, but also when he donned a gorgeous bob-wig in a bit part that had us in hysterics. In the lead female role of Mary Delgado, Isabella Capelli was an angel and created a multi-dimensional character that was very likeable and well-received.
While this is not the first time I have seen ‘Jersey Boys’ on stage, it could very well be my last. Short of Aussie legends Human Nature being cast as the lead four roles I simply don’t see it getting any better than this production. An absolute must see for one and all.
‘Jersey Boys’ performs until Sunday, 16 January 2022 at The Star Casino. For more information visit The Star website.