REVIEW: Jersey Boys, Palace Theatre, Manchester, until October 4

The Jersey Boys UK tour cast, Sam Ferriday, Stephen Webb, Matthew Corner and Lewis Griffiths as the Four Seasons.
The Jersey Boys UK tour cast, Sam Ferriday, Stephen Webb, Matthew Corner and Lewis Griffiths as the Four Seasons.
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Sometimes, you just have to fulfill the cliche quota - so here goes...

“Oh what a night”, you should be “Beggin’” for tickets because this show’s ‘just too good to be true’ and I might just need a “Sherry” to calm myself down.

OK, maybe that’s taking it too far, but this show left me a bit giddy - even several hours later as I write, so I’ll make no apologies.

While Blackpool has perhaps been spoiled for choice with Four Seasons-inspired shows this summer, Jersey Boys is the real deal and well worth the trip to Manchester.

It tells the you-couldn’t-make-it-up story of the rise of four young men from the wrong side of the tracks to international music stardom.

After successful, on-going Broadway and West End runs, this is the first time the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ story has taken to the road in the UK - and judging by the ovations on opening night at the Palace Theatre, it’s going to win many more fans.

The performances of principal cast, Matt Corner as Valli, and Stephen Webb, Sam Ferriday and Lewis Griffiths as band mates Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi respectively, are so perfect it was hard to believe this was their opening night.

But their reactions to the incredible applause after the ‘big three’ numbers, Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry and Walk Like A Man, perhaps gave away their newness to the production. In all my years of theatre-going, I’ve never seen an audience go quite so wild for something in the middle of an act.

Corner perhaps deserves even more plaudits, stepping as the alternate Valli, to cover for Tim Driesen’s illness - not that you would have noticed, as he displayed the stunning vocal range of this musical legend.

While Jersey Boys steps back to the jukebox era, it certainly cannot be put in that genre of musical, as the compelling script, by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, weaves the Seasons’ story - featuring Mob connections, family breakdowns, addictions and conflicts - together with the help of stunning close harmony arrangements of their hits.

It’s cleverly told by each of the Seasons, giving their own take on the rise and fall of the band, and Des McAnuff’s direction is as slick as the suits with scarcely a moment’s pause throughout.

Unlike many musicals now, which ‘force’ a standing ovation at the curtain call, with a sing-along medley, the audience is very much left wanting more at Jersey Boys - half of me wanted a reprise of the musical highlights but the other half was delighted the show didn’t go down that cliched route.

And you know I love a cliche!