Saturday, August 13

Dalton Wood talks about being a Jersey Boy as the hit musical comes to Leeds Grand Theatre

If you love pop music then you will have a favourite Four Seasons songs and Jersey Boys is the musical based on their troubled journey from rags to riches.

The quartet famed for their close harmonies fought their way out of humble blue collar roots in Newark to record a set of beautifully arranged smash hits like Sherry, Rag Doll, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like A Man and December ’63 (Oh What a Night).

For a musical it’s a natural tale of triumphing against the odds with the added bonus of lead singer Frankie Valli’s utterly distinctive falsetto vocal style. So, it’s no wonder Jersey Boys was a big hit on Broadway, and is still running in the West End, as fans new and old appreciate the great songs penned by Valli and musical prodigy Bob Gaudio.

It’s also become a regular on the touring circuit with Dalton Wood taking on the role of troubled lead guitarist Tommy DeVito and his baritone anchored their complex harmonising.  Our Yorkshire Editor Paul Clarke spoke to Dalton to find out more about a warts and all show about their route to stardom.

What’s Jersey Boys all about?

It’s about this band The Four Seasons that started out with just Tommy DeVito, who I play, and he puts them together. It tells their story – their ups and all their downs as well. They came from literally nothing, and were trying to create something without a lot of money. Tommy was involved in crime, and went to prison, so they didn’t have it easy at all.

Tommy was certainly a one off if a really troubled soul.

I’m portraying a real person so it’s quite daunting. I’m making him my own, I’m not trying to replicate everything he was, and his characteristics. He started the band. but he was someone who ultimately got into a lot of trouble as he was a big gambling man and borrowed a lot of the money. In the end, spoiler alert, he does get kicked out of the band because of the trouble he got himself in.

Many people will be unaware at their peak the quarter were outselling The Beach Boys and The Beatles stateside. They didn’t have the same style of songs or audience as The Beatles, but they connected with so many different people. They just took off, it was amazing.

One of the hardest things is the harmonies, they’re quite close and a lot of them are complex.  I still have to think, but now it comes out as this is my harmony and I just sing it as we have done over 200 shows. Since I started it has become second nature, but I’m not saying it’s easy because it’s not. it’s absolutely incredible they created those harmonies themselves.

How tough is it recreating the band’s distinctive vocal sound?

Apart from being great songwriters their secret weapon was Frankie Valli’s utterly distinctive voice. It’s something that Bob Gauido says when he comes on in the show that he has recorded with all these famous people, but he’s never heard a voice like Frankie Valli. He was so unique, and interesting. and people loved it.

This show was a big hit on Broadway, and is still running in the West End, why has it proved so popular?

It just has to be because of the music, it is timeless, it keeps coming back again, again and again. Even now Beggin’ became big because something happened on TikTok, and that song got used, it just keeps coming. Everyone knows their songs, no matter what era you are from. I knew their songs going into the show, I didn’t know all their songs, but you definitely know the Four Seasons, even if you don’t know that it is them.  You will know one of their songs

It’s a tough question, but of all the songs in the band’s rich back catalogue of big hits, which is the one you love to sing the most?

Oh What a Night is a song I’ve always known and loved so it’s really good to do that. I love another song that Bob sings called Cry For Me because it’s the first time that we get together to sing and create the Four Seasons sound, so I love that moment onstage.

Jersey Boys is at Leeds Grand Theatre from 26th July to 6th August. To book 0113 2430808 or visit https://leedsheritagetheatres.com/whats-on/jersey-boys/

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