How often have you danced, sung, whooped and clapped during a history lesson? Before this week my answer would’ve been ‘never’, but Jersey Boys has returned to educate and entertain Melbourne in the best damn way possible.
As the lights dimmed, the iconic Regent Theatre was immediately transported into the humble surroundings of 1950s New Jersey, our ears quickly filling with expertly-delivered harmonies from the cast performing as the founding members of the – then called – Four Lovers, standing under a street lamp on the tough streets of Newark. We began to learn how the band started out: the members’ downfalls, talents, crimes, first girlfriends and first gigs. Halfway through the first act, the show takes a change of pace when Bob Gaudio joins the group and the new assemblage belt out their very first number one hit, written by Gaudio, Sherry. From there, the tunes just get bigger and better.
There were a number of notable “I did NOT know that!” moments throughout the evening, and I don’t want to spoil them all, but did you know Joe Pesci played an integral role in the Four Seasons’ success?
Also, I’m ashamed to admit I was unaware Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons were responsible for this absolute belter:
In fact, I’m sure plenty of post-boomers – and those whose dads weren’t playing the records on repeat growing up – will be shocked to discover just how many Four Seasons tracks they know, and can sing along to (and will). The hits featured in Jersey Boys are effing huge, and each song is expertly incorporated into the astonishing story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The set designs are simple, and shine brightest when audience members are thrown backstage, getting an insight behind the scenes as the lads perform to flashing cameras and adoring fans.
There’s a reason Jersey Boys has won multiple Tony Awards and receives standing ovations every night. When you have a dizzily talented cast delivering monster hits like Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like a Man, Oh, December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night), Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You, Working My Way Back to You, and Bye, Bye, Baby (and there’s more!) paired with a tale of friendships facing epic struggles and successes over the decades, it seems you can’t go wrong.
Jersey Boys is, quite frankly, the best musical around. If you haven’t already, get yourself tickets. Take your mates, take your dad and your nan… you can even take your kids (but probably only if they’re over 12 – there were a few f-bombs dropped on the streets of 1950s New Jersey).
You’ll walk out of the theatre clicking your fingers, swinging your hips with “Oh, What a Night” on your lips.