After nine years in the West End, this month marks the final London performance for Jersey Boys.
Telling the true tale of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons as they emerge from the backstreets of New Jersey to find fame and fortune in the world of pop, Jersey Boys first opened in London on the 18 March 2008 at the Prince Edward Theatre. Underpinned by a plethora of hits, the jukebox musical has celebrated critical acclaim, cementing its move to the Piccadilly Theatre in March 2014.
With the Broadway production closing its doors at the very start of 2017, the West End is imminently set to follow suit. Having added some last minute extra shows, the Four Seasons will wave a fond farewell come the evening of the 26 March, the final time such hits as Beggin and December, 1963 (Oh What A Night) will reverberate around the Piccadilly Theatre.
“You never imagine it’ll resonate as much as it has.”
“When we brought Jersey Boys here nine years ago, we hoped it was a good idea and that West End audiences would embrace it, but you never imagine it’ll multiply and resonate as much as it has,” producer Michael David said when revealing the news back in September 2016, going on to heavily praise the full cast and crew, and indeed the audiences who have filled both theatres throughout its nine year run.
Something of an understatement, Jersey Boys has been continuously celebrated for its expertly crafted production as well as its unparalleled and memorable soundtrack. It also manages to tap into the emotion of the unfolding events, in no small part due to the split narrative that sees the turbulent circumstances narrated by each of the Four Seasons. Most importantly, it treads the fine line between funny and sincere.
30 loads of washing a week
For the most part Jersey Boys represents both sides of the show-business coin, and with it carries much of the behind the scenes wonder mirrored on stage. With 38 wigs used throughout the show, being changed over 60 times, it’s no surprise that the fastest swap occurs in just seven seconds. These form part of 500 costume pieces used in each show, also including 87 pairs of shoes and 100 shirts.
As the production covers The Seasons’ career from the early 1960s to their induction into the Hall of Fame in 1990, their change is reflected throughout the performance. The Seasons wear 27 different shirts in each show, going through 50 costume changes. Unsurprisingly that equates to 30 loads of washing a week for the dedicated crew.
It’s all about the music
Ultimately, as with any major jukebox musical, Jersey Boys celebrates the songs and the era that inspired them. The 364 pages in the musical director’s score of the show translate into an audible powerhouse that twists and turns in line with the plot. The vocal ability of the cast remains paramount, not least the role of Frankie Valli (currently played by Matt Corner, sharing duties with Dayle Hodge) who spends over 600 hours a year on stage. Valli requires a range of three and a half octaves; something the key cast continue to take in their stride.
These accolades will stay with those behind Jersey Boys far longer than the remaining West End run. As the production prepares for a well-deserved celebratory tour from December 2017, none will forget the impact the musical has had on London’s theatre scene. Oh what a night indeed.