Manchester Theatre Awards

> Independent informed reviews by the region’s most experienced critics

Jersey Boys

Book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice. Music: Bob Gaudio. Lyrics: Bob Crewe
Dodger Theatricals and Ambassador Theatre Group
Palace Theatre, Manchester
29 January 2019 to 16 February 2019

Back in the city yet again, it's evident that this musical phenomenon still has plenty to offer -  to audiences old and new.

While the music of one of the original American boy bands, The Four Seasons, represents the 'tracks of their years' for many older theatregoers, it's clear that the timeless quality of the songs, coupled with the strong storyline of this show, also appeals to subsequent generations.

That's why it warrants more than two weeks of performances here, and remains the show that many other venues around the country would clear their schedules to accommodate.

Adapting the story of the four boys from New Jersey into a fast-moving stage drama, with songs, has turned it into an international hit. It may all start out like an episode from The Sopranos, but it's the unique falsetto tones of lead singer Frankie Valli, coupled with the songs of fellow band member Bob Gaudio, that lift four boys from the wrong side of the tracks to stratospheric stardom.

At the same time it also skilfully avoids being yet another jukebox musical. It spends a full 45 minutes of the first act establishing characters, settings and motivation before rewarding audiences with the first medley of greatest hits. The same act also closes with a dark storyline revealed, rather than the usual resounding highlight given by most musicals.

And how many shows can afford to list the 20 songs they couldn't accommodate, besides the 30 or more they could? Can't Take My Eyes Off You has achieved such a life force of its own, after featuring in the movie Deerhunter, that it is rewarded here with its own show-stopping ovation.

As you might expect from a touring version of such an artfully-created production, every facet of the performance is polished to perfection. All you have to do is enjoy all the entertainment of this gem of a show.

Reviewer: David Upton