THEATRE REVIEW: Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys is currently at Milton Keynes Theatre
Jersey Boys is currently at Milton Keynes Theatre
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Oh What A Night - it might not be December 1963, but the songs of the Jersey Boys are as catchy as ever more than 50 years on from their original outing.

And the audience was certainly enjoying a trip down memory land as they relived the story behind Franki Valli and The Four Seasons at Milton Keynes Theatre last night.

Jersey Boys is currently at Milton Keynes Theatre

Jersey Boys is currently at Milton Keynes Theatre

A back catalogue of songs including Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Beggin’, Bye Bye Baby and Working My Way Back To You were brought to life and had the crowd of all ages singing along from start to finish.

Not being around in the 60s, I didn’t really know the story but sat back and got ready to learn as well as enjoy the tale of four guys trying to make their way in the music business.

Meet Tommy Devito (Henry Davis), the man who started the group and saw it through various line-ups and names, but was ultimately forced out through money problems.

Nick Massi (Lewis Griffiths) stood by him for many years and saw Frankie Valli (Tim Driesen) and Bob Gaudio (Sam Ferriday) signed up to complete the foursome.

Based on the true lives of the band, the stage adaptation takes you back to the streets of New Jersey when becoming a popstar was a far cry from the world of today’s X-Factor.

The four guys share a love of music, but they all have their own ideas on how to succeed as well as deal with the pressures of performing, touring and fame.

But the show is far more than that, looking at the singers’ relationships both within the band as well as with their families.

There are also moments of personal tragedy, betrayal, crime and punishment which draw the audience in to a world as colourful as the four seasons.

It’s a strong cast, both in its acting as well as singing ability, but Frankie Valli really shone in this production.

This might not be surprising given his role as lead singer, but Driesen’s portrayal of Frankie was convincing as well as charming.

He showed the boyish nature of the youngster Tommy plucked from the street and threw into the spotlight, but also the inner strength to keep fighting for what he believed in.

He was also the only character we really got to have an insight into how life on the road affected his home-life.

But while he may have taken centre stage for much of the night, there was strength in depth throughout the cast and each scene seemed to flow seamlessly from one into the next.

It’s a minimal stage set, but there are nice touches with pop art images on screen alongside flashbacks to pictures and footage from the band in its heyday.

It wasn’t plain sailing for the band, with some real dark times as well as euphoria and numerous members coming and going, but the show has a definite feel-good factor to it and the swaying, foot-tapping people sat near me were certainly enjoying the evening.

If you love the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, you’ll love the nostalgia of the show.

But even if you have no prior knowledge of the band and the story behind it, you’ll still have a good time.

As the performance came to an end, the audience was on its feet to give the cast the praise they deserved for a great night.

They certainly proved they can Walk Like A Man when it comes to bringing a true story to life on stage.

The show is running at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday, February 14.

For more details or to book tickets go to http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/jersey-boys/milton-keynes-theatre/