Now on its second tour of the UK after a nine-year run in the West End, Jersey Boys remains a red-hot ticket. Vicky Edwards discovers the secret of the show’s success and how it has led to love, laughter and a lot of sightseeing…
Pulling in one of the broadest audiences in musical theatre history, Jersey Boys has won almost as many awards as The Four Seasons had hit records. Well, perhaps not that many. After all, while the show features over 30 ‘Seasons’ chart-toppers, between 1962 and 1978 Frankie and the boys sold in excess of 100 million records.
But if your expectation of the show is a night of nostalgia presented in juke box format, think again. Jersey Boys hasn’t thrilled over 25 million people worldwide by simply taking a trip down musical memory lane. Read the Muddy review here.
“It’s a true, gritty and gutsy story,” says Lewis Griffiths, who plays Nick Massi, with relish. “The Seasons were idolised, but they were blue collar guys who worked their way up the ladder. It works because it’s a story of hope; if it can work out for the Seasons then why not for me?” he finishes, stressing that not only is this a true story, but also a fascinating slice of social and musical history.
Simon Bailey who plays Tommy DeVito jumps in, eager to add his thoughts. “It’s such a fascinating story and each guy tells it from their own viewpoint. And then there is the incredible music. You feel like you have been on an epic journey. The whole thing is so fast, so slick; this show does not pause for breath and as actors we don’t pause for breath either! It’s an event. People come back again and again and there is no ‘average’ audience member – good music is timeless whether you’re eight or 85.”
Australian actor Declan Egan (Bob Gaudio in the show) nods his agreement. “Standing ovations are standard. It is overwhelming, but 12 years on this show is still affecting people. It’s so cool! I first played this role at 19 and I’m now 26. I keep coming back and that is testimony to how great it is. I am so very proud to have been a Jersey Boy for seven years. To be part of such a legacy – I still have to say pinch me!”
As for Michael Watson who plays Frankie Valli (and who returns to the role after several stints in the West End), there is another reason that Jersey Boys is so special to him. Well, two, in fact. “My partner played Lorraine in the show in the West End and that’s where we met. Now we have just had a beautiful baby girl,” he says.
But if his beautiful little daughter is his baby girl, Jersey Boys will always be his musical baby. “It’s everyone’s show, but it will always be one of the biggest parts of my life. The crowds are so joyful because it speaks to everyone. It’s a play, a concert, a history and a party.”
Jersey Boys is at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking until Saturday 27 October. Book tickets
Words: Vicky Edwards