Jersey Boys (15)

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - REVIEWS -

PACK­ING five decades of suc­cess, fail­ure, heartache, mar­i­tal dis­cord, drugs, drink, death, money­len­ders and the Mob into a two-hour film was al­ways go­ing to be tough.

Thus Jersey Boys, based on the long-run­ning Broad­way hit, rat­tles through the life story of Frankie Valli and the Four Sea­sons. And along the jour­ney our hero is trans­formed from po­ten­tial ju­ve­nile delin­quent to back­ing singer to star.

Helmed by Clint East­wood, the film is less a mu­si­cal than a group biopic built equally on clichés, bad lan­guage, blue-col­lar bond­ing and the shadow of the Mafia.

John Lloyd Young plays Valli, the clean-liv­ing Ital­ianAmer­i­can kid with the unique sound who is re­cruited into a 50s band by ju­nior tough guy Tommy DeVito (Vin­cent Pi­azza). And it’s Tommy who proves to be the group’s Achilles heel as he racks up debt and dab­bles with loan sharks. East­wood prefers not to dwell so much on those de­tails as on the ten­sions and dy­nam­ics within the quar­tet. In fact, he pos­i­tively speeds through the four­some’s key mo­ments – zip­ping through their great­est hits, their an­tics on tour, their early brushes with the law and some per­sonal tragedies.

But in do­ing so East­wood fo­cuses on some all-time clas­sic songs and places Young cen­tre stage. He is right to do so, for Young – who played Valli on Broad­way and in the West End – is the heart of the movie.

It doesn’t quite stack up as a great mu­sic bi­og­ra­phy but at least East­wood had the fore­sight to cast a singer who can act and not an ac­tor who can’t sing. Full marks for that. THE Fault In Our Stars will of­fer a stern test to the wa­ter­proof mas­cara of ev­ery teenager who fell in love with John Green’s best­selling novel.

Josh Boone’s pol­ished adap­ta­tion nav­i­gates the tricky topic of ter­mi­nal ill­ness with wry hu­mour and sen­si­tiv­ity. The film is blessed with a tour-de-force cen­tral per­for­mance from Shai­lene Wood­ley as a young cancer pa­tient, who ex­pe­ri­ences the ex­quis­ite agony of first love just when it seems she has given up on life.

The 22-year-old doesn’t hit a sin­gle false emo­tional note as her pro­tag­o­nist wres­tles with guilt and mor­tal­ity, catalysing smol­der­ing screen chem­istry with co-star Ansel El­gort.

Wood­ley plays 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lan­caster, who was di­ag­nosed with cancer at an early age. An ex­per­i­men­tal drug trial has halted the spread of the dis­ease but Hazel is re­signed to her grim fate. “De­pres­sion’s not a side ef­fect of cancer,” she ex­plains in voiceover, “it’s a side ef­fect of dy­ing, which is what’s hap­pen­ing to me.”

The teenager reluc­tantly at­tends a cancer pa­tients’ sup­port group at the be­hest of her mom (Laura Dern). Dur­ing one ses­sion, Grace meets acer­bic sur­vivor Gus (El­gort), who lost his leg to halt the spread of his cancer. Grace and Gus’s shared dis­dain for con­ven­tion kin­dles friend­ship which in­ten­si­fies into love. The Fault In Our Stars is a beau­ti­fully sketched por­trait of ado­les­cence, an­chored by emo­tion­ally raw per­for­mances from the tal­ented cast. NORTH­ERN Ald­bor­ough Fes­ti­val would not have hoped for a more suc­cess­ful open­ing night.

To of­fer a rare op­por­tu­nity to hear the com­plete ver­sion of Stravin­sky’s The Sol­dier’s Tale was an ex­cit­ing and brave choice, and per­suad­ing the distin­guished ac­tor, Ed­ward Fox, to take the part of the nar­ra­tor, adding gilt to the gin­ger­bread. Scored for a small en­sem­ble of strings and wind in­stru­ments, with a solo role for vi­o­lin and trum­pet, it is mu­si­cally a dif­fi­cult score to per­form, but the play­ing from the Cham­ber Do­maine, con­ducted by its founder, Thomas Kemp, was all one could wish.

Shoe­horned onto the spe­cially erected stage in the beau­ti­ful old church, the ac­tion took place be­tween Matthew Sharp’s sprightly young Sol­dier, and his meet­ing with the Devil, a role well known to the ac­tor, Wal­ter van Dyke. The brief ap­pear­ance of the dancer, Isa­diora Valero Meza, added the part of the Princess.

By com­plete con­trast, the first half of the pro­gramme – the Stravin­sky is an ex­tended score – was de­voted to El­gar’s nos­tal­gic Piano Quin­tet, a lov­ing ac­count that reached its full-blooded ro­man­ti­cism in its fi­nal pages. Blues and Soul, A Night at the Mu­si­cals, clas­si­cal mu­sic and out­stand­ing per­for­mances by chil­dren and young people. The fes­ti­val runs from June 29 to July 2 at The Car­riage­works Theatre, Leeds. For more in­for­ma­tion visit www. leed­sjew­ish­fes­ti­val.com or call 0113 2680899. SCAR­BOR­OUGH’S an­nual Seafest, which takes place from July 25-27, will have a spe­cial vis­it­ing pop-up event this year. An off­shoot of Leeds’s Caribbean Car­ni­val, the pop-up car­ni­val will fea­ture mu­sic and dance and spec­tac­u­lar se­quined, feath­ered and beaded cos­tumes. It will take place from noon un­til 2.30pm on Satur­day July 26 at the Spa end of the beach in the South Bay. Other high­lights of the fes­ti­val in­clude mu­sic from the Par­adise Stelle Band and the Men of Staithes Choir and food demon­stra­tions from a line-up of top chefs. A PART of the laud­able Alan Ben­nett sea­son at West York­shire Play­house, this is a show worth see­ing in the con­text of Ben­nett’s oeu­vre, even though it is not from the pen of the mas­ter him­self.

Un­for­tu­nately, that it was merely in­spired by, as op­posed to writ­ten by, Ben­nett shows in a mu­si­cal that feels like lots of de­cent ideas in search of a plot.

A cor­rupt group of of­fi­cials are op­er­at­ing as a mafia of lo­cal pol­i­tics in post­war Bri­tain, while hum­ble chi­ropodist Gil­bert at­tempts to sat­isfy his mea­gre am­bi­tion to open his own surgery.

An un­likely hero, the mu­si­cal veers down a ridicu­lous al­ley­way when the wom­en­folk of the vil­lage sing lyri­cally about his magic hands rub­bing away at their corned feet. It is as un­ap­petis­ing to watch as it is to read about.

The meat of the story is about a pig that will be turned into sausages, un­til Gil­bert kid­naps/res­cues the porky din­ner be­fore it ar­rives on the plates of the avari­cious lo­cal coun­cil­lors. Even writ­ing the syn­op­sis you won­der how this ever made it to the stage.

The an­swer is be­cause of the man who in­spired it – Ben­nett is stamped through this pro­duc­tion.

It is in­spired by Ben­nett’s Pri­vate Func­tion. How­ever, what worked on the big screen does not trans­late to the stage and de­spite some fine per­for­mances and – in the sec­ond act – some toe-tap­ping mu­si­cal num­bers, the fact that it all seems both lu­di­crous and im­pos­si­ble to care about means the good things about this mu­si­cal are swal­lowed up by its short­com­ings.

To July 5. THE Na­tional Coal Min­ing Mu­seum is hold­ing its an­nual Min­ers Gala on Sun­day from 10am-4.45pm. It will be a day full of fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties, mu­sic, bike races, dis­plays and a craft show com­pe­ti­tion. Ad­mis­sion to the Gala is free and vis­i­tors can also ex­plore the mu­seum’s cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tion Courage, Ca­ma­raderie and Com­mu­nity.

ANEXT weekend sees Shel­ley’s bi­en­nial art ex­hi­bi­tion take place in the West York­shire vil­lage’s Em­manuel Church. Along­side the am­a­teur artists, two pro­fes­sion­als will be tak­ing part in the show this year – Royal Aca­demi­cian Paul Cur­tis and lo­cal Brian Hal­ton. The ex­hi­bi­tion takes place on Satur­day June 28 from 11am to 5pm. Ad­mis­sion is free and there will also be a French­style craft and pro­duce mar­ket.

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