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Jersey Boys at Alexandra Theatre - Review

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by ABC Writer (subscribe)
Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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Jersey Boys an uplifting Christmas show full of hits
It's won Tony and Olivier Awards and is a firm favourite with audiences for 16 years and now Jersey Boys is back in Birmingham for the Christmas season - so will it still dazzle after all this time?

Jersey Boys, alexandra theatre, Birmingham
Jersey Boys stays in Birmingham for the festive season

Birmingham's Alexandra Theatre is renowned for putting on a big musical over the festive period. The last one before Covid struck was The King and I and for 2021, it's this showstopper about the rise of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.

For those that think the music may be a little old for them, it will surprise you how many tunes you recognise. This was a band whose music catalogue set such a high standard, it has been covered time and time again. As recently as Beggin'.

Jersey Boys is on at The Alexandra until January 1 but the press night had a bit of a setback when the long-standing lead playing Frankie Valli, Michael Pickering, got ill halfway through.

Pickering whose voice had seemed a bit off his usual standard, had to be replaced at the interval by understudy Luke Suri, who filled the spot with a lot of enthusiasm and a stunning voice.

This hiccup didn't stop Jersey Boys from being a slick, highly polished affair.

Jersey Boys, alexandra theatre, Birmingham
Big sets, costumes and music in Jersey Boys

It tells the real stories of the four original members of the Four Seasons coming together in working-class Jersey in America through to the rock'n'roll Hall of Fame.

Narrated by each of them, the action continually moves along with no pause for breath and song after song of classics like Oh What A Night, Sherry Big Girls Don't Cry, Bye Bye Baby, I Love You Baby and so many more.

This isn't your cheap as chips jukebox musical either. It's been carefully thought out with a first-class script, creating an emotive storyline of the band's highs, lows and fallouts. Actor Joe Pesci even had his role to play in their fame, which is fascinating.

There's some clever techniques to add depth and variety. For instance, their appearances on TV chart shows of the Sixties have cameras filming them that are displayed on the huge backdrop screen in black and white. At other times, the screens have artwork to set the scene. It's big-budget with a large talented cast of singers. actors and musicians.

While the choreography is a painstaking recreation of the band's distinctive footwork, which seems so quirky in this day and age.

Jersey Boys, alexandra theatre, Birmingham
A story of friendships along with music

What makes it special is the human side of this drama to match the music. It's funny with plenty of chemistry between the four - lead singer Valli, songwriter Bob Gaudio, hot-headed gambler Tony Devito and laid back bass player Nick Massi - who were all affected by fame in different ways.

Jersey Boys has won over 65 awards including the most coveted theatre prizes and is being constantly refreshed to make sure it maintains its popularity.

It's a spirited drama with music that can't help to lift your spirits and that fits well with what theatre audiences want right now.


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Why? See uplifting musical Jersey Boys for Christmas
When: Until January 1, 2022
Phone: 0333 009 6690
Where: Alexandra Theatre, Suffolk Queensway, Birmingham
Cost: From 13
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