Updated: Jun 2, 2022
Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
JB Touring Ltd
Venue Cymru, Llandudno
May 31 - June 4, 2022; 2hrs 15min
(also Leeds Grand, Jul 26-Aug 6; Blackpool Opera House, Aug 16-27; Manchester Opera House, Oct 18-29)
It's hard for those of us of a certain age not to enjoy a show about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons; they are part of the soundtrack to our youth, along with the Beatles, the Stones, the Bee Gees and other iconic pioneers of rock and pop.
The band's songs have been so frequently covered by others that I raised an eyebrow more than once at the extent of their catalogue of hit after hit.
The problem this production will always face is that the Four Seasons are so well known, and their vocal style so distinctive, that it might be difficult to reproduce faithfully.
No such problem for Michael Pickering, (Frankie Valli), Dalton Wood (Tommy DeVito), Lewis Griffiths (Nick Massi) and Blair Gibson (Bob Gaudio); they handle the music superbly, ably supported by the other cast members and orchestra. The production is slick, weaving its way seamlessly back and forth between song and narrative.
The choreography is authentic too, and it was a nice touch to have some Lichtenstein-like pop-art as a backdrop, which suited both the mood and the period.
As this is a multiple Tony-awarded musical, there's more to it than a glorified concert. There is some substance to their story – one not untypical – of young musicians thrown into the spotlight, who struggle to handle success. But this doesn't belittle the nature of their experience and their startling success – despite lives of considerable strife, from Mob links to seeing a daughter die young – in achieving a long and successful career with fortitude and guts.
One prominent feature of the story is the trust and loyalty they exhibited towards each other, particularly Valli himself. In a world obsessed with litigation, his relationship with songwriter Bob Gaudio was sealed with a handshake; and he spent months on the road paying off debts incurred by DeVito long after he had left the band.
So yes, it's far more than a jukebox musical (though what a jukebox!) It's a show with depth and much to say about friendship and loyalty. The standing ovation at the curtain bears nightly testimony to this.
Info and tickets here