Tuesday, April 23

Jersey Boys – Hull New Theatre

So engrossed was I in the storyline during my third viewing of Jersey Boys (I’ve seen it once before as a reviewer and once as a civilian) at the Hull New Theatre on Wednesday evening, that I almost forgot to do my reviewer-ly duty, and check out the scenery, lighting, musicians, costumes etc etc.

The story of the rise, fall and rise again of four young American boys from New Jersey, who became the worldwide rock stars Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, was told with humour, passion, anger and regret to name just a few of the emotions expressed by a super-talented cast of individuals.

And when they were lost for words, their singing took over – and what singing!

Michael Pickering’s portrayal of Frankie Valli was spot on – close your eyes and it could have been the legend himself up on the stage. His amazing vocal range never failed to hit the high notes, Valli is so famous for. He was outstanding.

He didn’t have the monopoly on talent, though. Three equally amazing “Jersey Boys” – Bob Gaudio (Blair Gibson), Nick Massi (Lewis Griffiths) and Tommy DeVito (Dalton Wood) – completed the entertainment package.

It was DeVito who spotted the talents of teenager Francesco Stephen Castelluccio, giving him the confidence to sing in front of an audience and later to become a member of DeVito’s band.

Photo: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

The group soon discovers that fame and fortune would remain a pipe dream unless changes were made. With that in mind, up steps another New Jersey lad in the form of Joey Pesci (George Salmon), who begs the group to let a young man called Bob Gaudio write their songs.

They do, he does, but they find little success performing as The Four Lovers, a name they change to The Four Seasons after seeing those words up in advertising lights one night; Francesco Castelluccio having already morphed into Frankie Valli.

Their first hit, Sherry, released in 1988, was the song that took America and, later, the world by storm.

Mega hits such as Big Girls Don’t Cry, December 1963 (Oh What A Night), Walk Like A Man, My Eyes Adored You, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Fallen Angel, Rag Doll were just a few of the songs performed to perfection on the night.

Each one told a different story. Pickering’s emotional rendition of Fallen Angel recounted Valli’s heartache at the untimely death his 22-year-old daughter Francine, while his vocals on Can’t Take My Eyes Off You showed him in a triumphant light, it being the money-spinner that could help him clear the huge debt that DeVito had gotten the group into.

On Wednesday evening, a host of energetic performers kept the four Jersey Boys company on a stage setting that was unfussy enough not to detract from the drama unfolding. And it was great to see musicians in the spotlight at times, instead of hidden away in an orchestra pit.

But it was Pickering’s amazing vocals, as Valli, that brought the appreciative audience in a, surprisingly, far-from-full theatre, to its feet to applaud an entertainment masterclass.

Running until Saturday, May 28th, 2022; nightly 7,30pm with 2.30pm matinees on Thursdays, 19th & 26th; Saturdays, 21st & 28th. No performance on Sunday, 22nd. Tickets from £21.00. Call (01482) 300306 or visit www.hulltheatres.co.uk

Reviewer: Jackie Foottit

Reviewed: 18th May 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★