June 25, 2013
Award-winning Jersey Boys opens in Cape Town
“Oh, what a night!” The strains of the renowned Four Seasons song December, 1963 are still playing in my head and putting a bounce in my step following the opening of the award-winning Broadway hit musical Jersey Boys at the Artscape Theatre on Sunday 23 June, 2013.
Based on the true story of the Four Seasons, one of America’s original boy bands and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, Jersey Boys tells the tale of how four blue-collar Italian-American boys – Frankie Valli, played by Grant Almirall (Chicago, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar), Tommy DeVito, played by Daniel Buys (Boys in the Photograph, Mamma Mia!), Bob Gaudio, played by Kenneth Meyer (Boys in the Photograph, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar), and Nick Massi, played by television star Emmanuel Castis (Scandal!, Isidingo, season 4 winner of Strictly Come Dancing) – quickly rose to fame with their own songs and sold 175-million records worldwide, but couldn’t escape the poverty and Mafia connections of their youth.
The show has played to more than 16-million people worldwide since it opened on Broadway in 2005, and has enjoyed an equally rousing reception in South Africa, having just completed a run at the Teatro at Montecasino in Johannesburg. Now, it’s the Mother City’s opportunity to experience the meteoric rise of one of musical history’s most celebrated bands.
Whether you are an avid theatre lover or a newbie to the Jersey Boys story, you will recognise most of the Four Seasons‘ (and Valli's) chart-topping hits of the 1960s and 70s, including Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like a Man, Rag Doll, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You and December, 1963 (to which I am listening and dancing as I write this), adapted for the show by Gaudio himself.
Jersey Boys is a slick production, clearly a product of the leadership given by two-time Tony Award-winner and Jersey Boys Broadway director Des McAnuff. From the time-specific costumes by Jess Goldstein to the spectacular set design by Klara Zieglerova, which switches from magically-appearing street lamps and a recording studio to hotel rooms and jazz lounges, the attention to detail in bringing the group’s captivating rags-to-riches tale to life is amazing. But it’s the four male leads who are the real stars of the show.
Almirall, Buys, Castis and Meyer, who are all proudly South African (as is the rest of the 19-member cast and 10-piece live band) never miss a beat with their authentic sounding Jersey accents, their soulful voices and boy, those sexy dance moves!
Portraying the life story of living icons is never easy, more so when it is live on stage and has been performed to critical acclaim in international productions that have won more than 50 awards. But the local cast rise admirably to the occasion and transport the audience to the often tumultuous world of the Four Seasons over four decades, capturing the brilliant success and incredible hardships these young men endured.
Jersey Boys is no ordinary tribute show – it’s a full-scale, must-see musical!
If my enthusiasm is not enough to convince you to watch this magical musical, check out this Expresso interview with the hot Jersey Boys quartet:
Tickets for the Cape Town run of Jersey Boys South Africa, which runs until Sunday 4 August, 2013 at the Artscape Theatre, are disappearing faster than you can croon Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby Goodbye). Book yours today at Computicket or visit www.jerseyboyssa.co.za, for more information.