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  • Review by john Murray

Jersey Boys triumph

I think we all know the music from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons?

Ask any music fan and I expect Rag Doll and Sherry will spring to mind and can be sung out loud while others from a different era can quote from (Oh What A Night) December 1963 or the disco explosion that was Who Loves You and some can only site Grease the movie title track which was a Valli solo project and ignored on this musical stage.

So the songs are familiar and the success of Jersey Boys on stage and all the associated copies that followed mean a lot to live up to. The answer was not immediate either as the original group who practised under a street lamp certainly did have the harmonies but they had still to exploit Valli’s falsetto and they had no hits or even a record deal. This all changed with the introduction of Bob Gaudio (played by Declan Egan). He was an inspirational writer and already had a US hit with Who Wears Short Shorts, a hit in the UK for Freddie & The Dreamers.

It should be noted that New Jersey is no Beverly Hills. We see the deals, the loan sharks, the mob and the scams. Diluted I expect for a stage production or swept over neither. When the hits come they come in quick succession too with Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry and Walk Like A Man all scoring high and presented as a concert presentation with suits, mics and choreography. This was impressive and unlike say Mamma Mia and others where they try to make them lyrically part of the story for effect, but here a pure vocal performance and it is this sound that makes the show outstanding. Michael Watson (as Frankie) is amazing in range and sustain and fronting the three other harmonies the sound has never been better. Without these guys the story and the show would be nothing.

Songs that were marginal in the UK such as Working My Way Back To You or Bye Bye Baby were given new prominence while the latter will forever be associated in these parts by the UK hit version by the Bay City Rollers. After the initial hits we hear more of the internal squabbles, the tax and loan problems and the diverting Frankie Valli solo project. They then came together for a reunion for the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame and triumphed once more before a great sing-along ending with Who Loves You sung by the full company. Jersey Boys had lived up to the acclaim and again conquered Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Playhouse till March 2

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