Piccadilly Theatre, London
For die-hard fans of a particular show, it is never easy when cast change happens. However, for the first time in the history of Jersey Boys eight-year run all four “boys” (five including alternate Frankie) changed. As a fan, you have to accept this and continue to support the old cast in their new ventures and learn to embrace the incoming new blood, which is sometimes easier said than done.
However, within the new four seasons we have “touring” cast and experienced ensemble move into the key roles and I visited the show on the matinée of 26th March to see how they were getting along in just their second week of performing together.
Jersey Boys is a tried and tested highly successful formula which has not changed. So what I would’ve expected to see is the same but different show……..So was this my experience?
Simon Bailey opens with a strong delivery of “Tommy Devito’s” opening speech. It’s calculated and has the perfect accentuation. His “Tommy DeVito” feisty and powerful.
I know this show so well that I look for key lines or moments, (my favourites if you like) to see how they are delivered, everyone gives a different “nuance” to them and it makes for an interesting insight as to how the characterisation has been achieved and what we can expect. One of these came, when Declan Egan as Bob Gaudio sat down at the piano to sing “Cry For Me” did I feel the usual melting moment I’ve had when I’ve seen others in this role? Absolutely I did, Egan’s voice is divine and suits it down to the ground. I was sat in my usual seats in the second row and it appeared that nerves were playing a part but if this is the case then there was no need Egan’s portrayal of Gaudio was faultless.
Matt Hunt as Nick Massi is someone I’ve been watching for years as he previously played Norm Waxman. So when the announcement came that he was becoming one of “the four” I was delighted and had the anticipation of a great performance to come. I was not wrong either and believe that we are lucky enough to be seeing one of the greatest performances in the role of Nick Massi we’ve ever seen! The delivery of “the towel” speech was spot on and his deep range in his voice is absolutely perfect combined with his acting which was superb.
The role of Frankie was played by alternate Dayle Hodge He bounded onto the stage like an excited puppy and kept the nervous energy going throughout. I say nervous because the relief that he showed in the second act when he had sung “Can’t take my eyes off you” seemed apparent. The applause, appreciation and adulation really moved him. However the anxiety was needless as when he visibly relaxed, I and the audience saw the performance, I knew Hodge had in him. Of course I could be wrong in my observation and let’s face it, he undeniably has huge shoes to follow in the Frankie’s that have been his predecessors but I can’t wait to see him grow in the role and look forward my next visit. Fallen Angel was full of pain and angst and the audience felt it. A brilliant performance which can only gather in momentum and go from strength to strength.
Whilst this review has been about the principles let’s not forget the other new to role cast plus some steadfast ensemble who always deliver. Special mentions therefore go to Mark Dugdale (Bob Crewe) Mark Heenehan (Gyp) had the “mobster Godfather” persona off to a tee, Nathaniel Morrison (Barry) Lucinda Gill (Mary Delgado)and Stuart Dawes (Donnie).
This show is and will always be a five star show in my eyes and the new cast are set to continue this feeling. Whilst they had not quite synced with one another, this was only the second week of performing together and they did a tremendous job. This is one happy supporter, and to paraphrase a line from the show “I’m like that bunny on TV I just keep goin and goin” and this new cast definitely has me “Beggin” for more.
★★★★★ “A brilliant performance which can only gather in momentum and go from strength to strength”