New Jersey Nights – Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

New Jersey Nights is an interesting new phenomena. The fifties, sixties and seventies spawned a slew of memorable popular music, the originators of which are now largely either dead, or in their dotage. First, tribute bands came along to keep their memory alive, then came stage musicals. New Jersey Nights develops the lineage by capitalising on the success of another stage musical, The  Jersey Boys, and also showcases the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons who were played by John Hawkins, Ricki Rojas, Damion Scarcella and Simon Schofield. The  three part harmony behind “ Valli’s” soaring falsetto voice are convincing but the  star of the show is  offstage, songwriter Bob Gaudio , whose songwriting  is celebrated in this show.

The  credentials of the Four Seasons are impressive.An American   band  from New Jersey  they became internationally successful in the mid-1960s. Since 1970, they have also been known  as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. In 1960, the group known as the Four Lovers evolved into the Four Seasons, with Frankie Valli as the lead singer, Bob Gaudio (formerly of the Royal Teens) on keyboards and tenor vocals, Tommy DeVito on lead guitar and baritone vocals, and Nick Massi on bass guitar and bass vocals. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, and joined the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. They are one of the best-selling musical groups of all time, having sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide.

A jukebox musical in concert form with a live band on stage, not only are all the hits despatched, but also a sprinkling of other period songs are included. Female dancers and backing singers create a cabaret style feel to flesh out the restrictions of four men behind a microphone. The classics, such as “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Sherry”, “Walk Like A Man” and “My Eyes Adored You”,  were spot on,  the covers , “Be My Baby”, “Why Do Fools Fall In Love”,   “My Girl” and “Da Doo Ron Ron” bubbled and burned. The upbeat first half is slowed down for the opening of the second set, with a number of ballads, but picks up for the last quarter of the show, bringing the audience to their feet to sing and dance in the aisles. There is no shortage of material upon which to draw.

NJN dancers

The show is a spectacular celebration of the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, and takes the audience on a nostalgic musical journey through the career of one of the biggest selling groups of all time.From the back street studio in New Jersey where it all began, this vibrant production includes all of The Four Seasons greatest hits.

While the music soars, the production values are more modest ,the set is basic , and the  supporting choreography sometimes awkward but the main numbers are performed with ebullience and gusto nonetheless by  dancers Bethany Dows, Robyn Ford, Phoebe Henderson,  Jonathan Cook, Simone Cristofaro and Charlie England .

The vocals and harmonies  are uniformly strong, such that they are spotlighted in an acapella section including a comedy introduction to Blue Moon and the highlight of the evening Silence is Golden. The music is authentic and  faithful to the originals under  musical director Matt Randall.

You can catch up with the fun at the Grand, which had the audience on their feet and hollering for more,  for the rest of the week, the run is from 19th – 23rd November 2013, and then again at Capital FM Arena Nottingham  on 7th of December – 2 shows

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