Reviews, News and Commentary

Jersey Boys is back in town

Jersey Boys
The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Auckland, The Civic
17 April – 9 May 2021

Wellington, Opera House
21 May – 6 June 2021

Jersey Boys which is one of the great musicals of the 21st century is having a return season to Auckland next year. The show  tells the story of how four blue collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks became one of the biggest American pop sensations of all time The show was on in Auckland back in 2012 and next year will tour to both Wellington and Auckland.

Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi joined forces in the 1960’s to become The Four Seasons, writing their own hits and developing their unique sound, going on to sell over 175 million records before they were 30!
They were just four guys from New Jersey, until they sang their very first note. They had a sound nobody had heard before and one that radio stations just couldn’t get enough of. But while their harmonies were perfect on stage, off stage it was a very different story — a story that has made them an international sensation all over again.

Having smashed New Zealand box office records when it first visited in 2012, the show has been the. winner of fifty-seven major awards worldwide, including the Olivier Award for Best New Musical, their story was so good it was turned into a Hollywood blockbuster produced and directed by Clint Eastwood and grossing $67 million at the box office.
When it showed at Auckland ‘s Civic Theatre in 2012 I gave it a five star review which I include here in full.

“Not many people have heard of Francis Stephen Castelluccio so it’s just as well he changed it to Frankie Valli (that’s with an “i” and not a “y”, because all Italian words end in “i”).

His name is synonymous with the Four Seasons, the group which along with the Beach Boys changed the American music scene in the 1960’s.

They inserted themselves in the universal consciousness like the Beatles so that everyone knows the words of their songs even if they can’t remember the name of the group. The string of hits they had included “Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” “Walk Like a Man” and “Oh What A Night”, making them one of the great bands of the 20th century.

Now with the international success of the musical “Jersey Boys”, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, including Bob Gaudio, Tommy de Vito and Nick Massi, are once again becoming household names and they will live on forever because the show will be one of the great musicals of the 21st century.

Back in the 1960s, Bob Gaudio (and the rarely mentioned Bob Crew) wrote a string of songs which went into the top 10 slots for weeks on end.

These songs were bittersweet reflections on life and love and they expressed many of the feeling of society’s youth of the day.

One of the problems with many musicals is that songs even that are great often don’t really relate to the story.

The disconnection between the two means that there is a lack of drama with the songs not enhancing the story.

With “Jersey Boys” the songs are an integral part of the musical. The narrative follows the lives of the members of the band and so the high points of their careers are their major hits.

While the songs were not written about the lives of the band members, in this carefully constructed musical they become reflections on their interconnected lives.

The story is largely centered on Frankie Valli but each of the band members gives their own take on the success of the band.

There is the slightly mad Tommy de Vito who manages the group but is always in trouble with the mob, and the bass player, Nick Massi who is always keen to leave and set up his own group.

Then there is the incredibly intense Bob Gaudio, who understood how to write songs which were just so right.

While this combination of a great voice, great song writer, hard-headed manager and a great solid bass player is what made the group, it is the extraordinary falsetto voice of Frankie Valli which gives the show the incredible vibrancy which makes for an extraordinary performance.

The whole story is threaded through with their personal problems, marriages, divorces internal wrangles, the run in with the mob and the band’s breakup.

The show at times feels like a documentary showing how the band evolved.

We get a sense of how bands get to be successful with the various components of song writer, singer, manager and musicians all having to contribute and fame comes when all those people with their skills line up to create a hit.

It’s a fast-paced show with multiple mini set changes, great visuals, great dialogue, great jokes and a string of crowd-pleasing songs which had the audience applauding every number.

The singing is fabulous and their act is quite possibly slicker than the original band.”

For tickets register at

By johndpart

Arts reviewer for thirty years with the National Business Review

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