Jersey Boys — the best in Joburg
MUCH hype and prepublicity was made about Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. I have to admit to being sceptical. Our theatres are awash with musical revues; I have seen a couple of shockers this year and had planned never to see one again. Thank goodness I changed my mind. Jersey Boys is the best show of its type I’ve yet seen in SA. Although it isn’t true to type, it’s not just all singing and no substance — it has a storyline, giving the timeline and evolution of how four streetwise Jersey boys became a global phenomenon that sold more than 175-million albums.
Their first hit, Sherry, sold 120,000 copies in one week — this was not only before social media, iTunes, 24-hour TV and internet coverage, but before it was a given that all homes in the US even had a radio, let alone a TV. Comparatively, they were bigger than Justin Bieber.
Because the show is a drama as well as a musical tribute, the main characters have to be good actors as well as good singers. And by good I mean great. Grant Almirall as the young Frankie Valli whose “weird voice” defined a sound that has not been reproduced since; Daniel Buys as the smart-talking, wheeling and dealing Tommy DeVito; Kenneth Meyer as one of music’s greatest songwriters, Bob Gaudio; and Emmanuel Castis as the sweet and slightly dim Nick Massi (all pictured above) are all incomparable in their roles. Almirall as the lead carries most of the weight in what must be an exhausting night’s work — but that voice is flawless across all its many ranges. Yet the other three are far from “back-up”; each character, dance move and voice doesn’t miss a mark.
Just as it takes a bucket-load of make-up to look naturally beautiful, it took a production team of epic proportions to make this show look effortless. According to South African producer Hazel Feldman, “The challenge was to convince the Broadway producers and creative team that SA had the talent to perform and present this unique musical.” Broadway has not been disappointed.
On opening night there were at least three occasions when the show could not go on due to the applause and cheers of the audience, culminating in a prolonged standing ovation at its end. You may have seen this coming, but here it is anyway — Oh, what a night!
Jersey Boys runs at the Teatro at Montecasino until May 23. www.montecasino.co.za