Back in the early 1960s, the music world in America rocked with the arrival of four talented, young musicians who burst on the pop scene with a string of top-40 Number One hit records. No, it wasn’t, The Beatles, but New Jersey’s own version of the Fab Four, The Four Seasons. Though their world-wide popularity never would equal their British counterparts, The Four Seasons “popped” onto the American music scene beginning 1962 with three number one hits: Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry and Walk Like a Man all coming better than a year before John, Paul, George and Ringo brought their mop-tops and screaming fans to New York’s Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964 for that famous American debut. Like so many others, I thought The Beatles’ music was terrific. But for me, the Four Seasons’ Rag Doll is as classic a tune from the 1960s as Hey Jude even though my better half thinks my childhood musical tastes, like my teeth, were corrupted by too much bubblegum. The Four Seasons were equal to any group, scoring 16 top 40 hits in the U.S. in just 28 months between 1962 and 1964 and they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. How ironic that I recently found myself walking the streets of London on a business trip, touring the very territory where the The Beatles first gained early notoriety. Suddenly, I found myself standing in front of the Prince Edward Theatre. The marquee beckoned: Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. The London production recently had its opening there in the heart of Theatre District, enjoying rave reviews from those tough British critics. Back home in New York, decent tickets for Jersey Boys, the 2006 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical, are nearly impossible to come by, even though the show is entering its third year. You still will pay two and three times the face value from ticket agents. Here was my chance in London to enjoy a trip back in time and see the musical story of The Four Seasons. My American Express card easily handled the purchase of two sixth row center orchestra seats for that evening’s performance at 60 pounds each (about $125.00 U.S.) My boss and traveling companion in London, also a big Four Seasons fan, was engaged in meetings and allowed me free time to sightsee so long as I got him a show ticket as well. Jersey Boys was a delight! The London production stars Ryan Molloy, who does a fantastic job portraying Frankie Valli, the Four Seasons’ falsetto singing lead. Not only does Molloy bring a great voice to the role, the British actor (and all the cast, as well) nail the dialect and mannerisms that are pure “Newark.” The show spins The Four Seasons hits better than a 1960s disc jockey, all the while taking us through the group’s formation, its success and even the later-in-life tragedies of four “Jersey Boys.” New York and London’s productions of Jersey Boys are joined by companies in Chicago, Las Vegas and Melbourne, Australia as well as a National Touring Company playing most large U.S. and Canadian cities. If you find yourself standing in front of a theater featuring Jersey Boys, ‘Walk Like a Man’ (or woman) right in a get tickets for one terrific show.
Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons (London Production)