Review: Jersey Boys at Wales Millennium Centre

Jersey Boys

“Oh what a night!”

I am “Beggin'” you to see this production because “Oh What a Night” it was! Too cheesy? Maybe.

I don’t think I could praise this production enough if I tried. Every single aspect of it was delightful. I couldn’t fault it if someone held a gun to my head and asked me to. I really couldn’t.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the show if I’m honest. I remember seeing it with my family a few years back and remember enjoying it but it not being my favourite thing in the world. Still, I went in with an open mind and I was blown away, to say the least.

Lewis Griffiths, Michael Watson, Declan Egan and Simon Bailey in Jersey Boys

The show tells the true story of Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, narrated by each of the four legends in turn. Tommy Devito, played by Simon Bailey, opens the narration of the show and quickly takes on the role of the stereotypical Jersey gangster type. He soon takes Franki Valli, played by Michael Watson, under his wing and between him and Nick Massi, played by Lewis Griffiths, teach him to improve his singing.

Through a series of unsuccessful gigs and trying to find a fourth member, the group stumbles upon Bob Gaudio, played by Declan Egan, a young singer-songwriter whose songs transform this group of three performers to the legendary Four Seasons.

I think one reason this show is so popular and so effective is that all four of the boys get the spotlight and time for narration. As Tommy Devito tells us at the start, everyone remembers the past differently, so fans of the original Four Seasons love learning about the group from all four perspectives. And even for people like me who don’t know the original group, it tells a captivating and real story that both tugs on heartstrings and has you smiling from ear to ear.

Lewis Griffiths, Michael Watson, Declan Egan and Simon Bailey in Jersey Boys

Michael Watson makes a wonderful Franki Valli. Throughout the show we see him grow up from a naive and perky 16-year-old with a wonderful voice, to the man who sang for the rest of his life to support his family and help out a best friend. His character development is a joy to watch, let alone his singing. Michael Watson is a true talent, and during his performances of “My Eyes Adored You”, “Fallen Angel” and the unforgettable “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”, I was captivated. His talent knows no bounds and this man is a true star.

Simon Bailey as Tommy Devito adds so much to this production. The stereotypical Jersey boy who gets the group into huge financial trouble, yet the big lovable brother at the same time, Bailey’s charisma and stage presence is admiring. Tommy Devito is insistent throughout the show that he carries the band and he makes it all happen, and I can assure you that Simon Bailey also does just that; he carries the show and is a real asset to the production.

Declan Egan as Bob Gaudio is a delight to watch. A character similar to Franki Valli – the young, spritely and innocent member of the group who soon has to grow up – and the talent behind The Four Season’s hit records, Egan does a wonderful job. He is likable and shares many funny moments with the audience – a trait Egan pulls off effortlessly. His vocals are refreshing and light, adding so much to his character. The relationship Gaudio develops with Valli is wonderful to watch between Egan and Watson – they connect and bounce off each other and create real brotherly chemistry.

Last but certainly not least, Lewis Griffiths as the mysterious, sharp and silent Nick Massi is a wonderful dark horse. Every action Griffiths makes on stage is slick and has a purpose. He tells a great story and gives incredible depth to his character with just one look or arm gesture. Lewis Griffiths belongs on the stage and that is clear to see.

Just like the original Four Seasons, this show wouldn’t work without the talent of all four of the lead actors and they all do an incredible job.

Declan Egan, Michael Watson, Simon Bailey and Lewis Giffiths in Jersey Boys

I honestly can’t express enough how much I enjoyed this show. With hit after hit after hit, such as “Sherry”, “Walk Like A Man”, and “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, every single person will enjoy this musical. Whether you know the songs or not, you will enjoy it.

The show is so raw and so real, hitting every emotion, showing so much insight into characters rather than just glazing over the basics. It draws you in and doesn’t let you go until the curtain goes down. The vocals, the dancing, the story and the acting are all superb and contribute to an amazing show.

There is no better way I can explain the performance than by saying “Oh what a night” because it was just that – not just a musical performance or show, but a whole night, an experience.

I urge absolutely everyone to see this production; old or young, male or female, this is a show for everyone. The auditorium was packed with a huge range in audience members who were all on their feet during the finale and bows and I am not in the least bit surprised. The atmosphere was electric and I will never forget the audience reaction following Michael Watson’s rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”.

Get yourself down to Wales Millennium Centre to get your tickets now.

Simon Bailey, Michael Watson, Declan Egan, Lewis Giffiths and the Company in Jersey Boys

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