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Venue: New Theatre Oxford      

The Christmas show in Oxford this year is a return of the touring company of Jersey Boys. If you like the music Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons then this show is entirely for you, do not even consider missing it. It does not put a foot wrong in performing the music and in telling the tale. If you do not like Frankie Valli all that much, it might not matter anyway, as long as you can respond to the idiom, because this is a very well made production and theatrically gripping. This is a very entertaining and professionally constructed show, still touring successfully after quite a time.

The show tells the tough story of the New Jersey group and their tough backgrounds movingly; but it is their talent and their music that is at the centre. The entire production moves swiftly and the narration is always clear. But above all the musical numbers are extremely well integrated as well as being well staged and the show is both a celebration of Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and the others in their lives and a rather brilliant song festival, a tribute show that works at all the levels.

Michael Watson manages the falsetto voice and the character of Frankie Valli well, Simon Bailey makes a worrying yet sympathetic Tommy DeVito and Declan Egan stands out as Bob Gaudio. The whole concept of telling their story through not only narration but the actual songs is strong and the cast as a whole is energetic, committed and talented. Des McAnuff’s direction and Sergio Trujillo’s choreography are impressive. The staging is witty and satiric as required but also can darken when the material needs it. Even if you have seen the excellent 2014 film directed by Clint Eastwood from this material, there is something so exciting about seeing the original work live on stage that I would recommend it to anyone who is at all interested. The sets by Klara Zieglerova and the costumes by Jess Goldstein evoke the era in which the story happened perfectly. The script is dramatic and thought-provoking; and the musical production is strong, idiomatic, and totally evocative of its era. This is a fine show and it is still in very good shape. I was seeing it for the third time and I enjoyed every minute all over again!

  • Musical
  • Directed by Des McAnuff
  • Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
  • Choreography Sergio Trujillo
  • Music by Bob Gaudio and Lyrics by Bob Crewe
  • Cast includes: Michael Watson, Simon Bailey, Declan Egan, Lewis Griffiths, Dayle Hodge, James Alexander Gibbs, Phoebe May Newman, Olive Robinson
  • Venue: New Theatre Oxford      
  • In Oxford until 6 January 2019 and then touring

About The Author

Reviewer (UK)

Canadian-born Mel Cooper first came to the UK to study English Literature at Oxford University and stayed. He was captivated by the culture and history of Britain, which he found to be a welcoming and tolerant country. After working in highly illustrated, non-fiction publishing for over a decade, he founded and edited the magazine Opera Now. Since then he has worked as a consultant to the Japanese broadcaster NHK, a broadcaster on British Satellite Broadcasting, a maker of audio shows and arts critic for several airlines, and as one of the team that started Britain’s first commercial classical music radio station, Classic FM, on which he was both a classical music DJ and creator and presenter of shows like Classic America and Authentic Performance. Throughout this period, he also lectured in music and literature in London and Oxford and published short stories in Canada. After working with the Genesis Foundation on helping to fund arts projects, he continues to write, review and lecture on music and literature. His first novel has just been published as an e-book. The title is City of Dreams. It is the first volume of a projected saga called The Dream Bearers. You can find the Kindle version of the book on Amazon.

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