Jersey Boys is the smash hit musical which tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, who had a string of hits starting with 1962’s Sherry. My mum wanted to see it so I bought her tickets to watch the performance at Wolverhampton Grand.
The musical, unlike ones such as Mamma Mia, doesn’t have a unique story and is instead a direct retelling of the band’s story, using the four seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter to retell the highs and lows of the bands history.
The show begins with Ces soirées-là (Oh What a Night) being performed which was a 2000 hit for Yannick and samples December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night). Then Tommy DeVito comes out and talks about the original song and we go back to the 1950s where he was performing in various trios in and around New Jersey, along with his brother Nick DeVito and friend Nick Massi when they discover young teenager Frankie Castelluccio. The band members were also in and out of prison at this time and Frankie changed his stage name name to Frankie Valli. They continue struggling to make it until the groups co-conspirator, the famous actor Joe Pesci, tells hem to meet with songwriter Bob Gaudio.
Bob Gaudio had already had a radio hit with the song (Who Wears) Short Shorts but the money and hits quickly dried up. Eventually him, Tommy Devito, Nick Massi and Frankie Valli form a group. They go on the circuit to get a record deal and accord to Gaudio he wrote their first hit single, Sherry Baby at the last minute with it, Big Girls Don’t Cry and Walk Like A Man becoming huge hits.
However trouble begins to brew for the band. Frankie’s constant time away from home and also alcoholism leads to his divorce and estrangement from his daughter Francine, he also makes a handshake agreement with Bob Guardio to split publishing royalties between them. Also loan shark Norm Waxman confronts Tommy and wants to collect some unpaid debts.
In the second half, Nick Massi takes over the story and we learn of mroe issues which ahd been unresolved in the band. Tommy had racked large unpaid tax bills and even got the group arrested for unpaid expenses. He also interfered in Frankie’s new romance with a reporter named Lorraine. As Nick and Frankie they air their grievances at Tommy, they decide Tommy will move to Las Vegas on the mobs watch so that the rest of the band can continue and work to pay off the $162k debts and $500k tax bill he ran up. Nick also discovers the handshake agreement and decides to leave the band.
The final portion of the story is told from Frankie’s perspective. The band continues, replacing Nick and Tommy with new members and later Bob decided to take a step back from performing, suggesting the Four Seasons become a backing band for Frankie Valli. However Frankie still struggles to connect with his daughter and his relationship with Lorraine ends. However he does reach new commercial success with the release of Can’t Take My Eyes Of You and C’mon Marianne. Finally tragedy strikes as his daughter dies from a drug overdose.
The final scene takes place in 1990, when the band were indicted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and they were reunited on stage and we learn their final fates. Tommy ended up working for Joe Pesci in Vegas, Nick returned to New Jersey until he died in 2000, Bob retired to Tennessee and Frankie continued to tour.
I really enjoyed the show and learning the history of the band. I have had discussions wiht people who aren’t fans of musicals due to the cheesy sudden bursting into songs of other musicals and whilst I do love that I did like this more direct retelling where for the most part the music was performed in typical settings with only the occasional song used as a backing for other events.
One thing I will say with this show is it does have a tendency to play portions of a song with a narrator interjecting which is sometimes frustrating as I would rather hear the full song, especially the big hits though I understand it was going for a montage style.
I would also say from a song perspective as I’m not as big a fan of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons as Abba I did struggle to know all the songs though my favourites by them which is Beggin’ and December, 1963 were included. I also didn’t know Frankie Valli sung Can’t Take My Eyes of You which I was surprised by but I also love that song too.
Unfortunately the programmes had sold out and there wasn’t anyone I really recognised on the stage from anywhere else but they all did a fantastic job and it was a very entertaining show which I would recommend people check out when it comes to a town near them.