Jersey Boys Tour hits Liverpool

★★★★★

BBC News recently published an article titled, ‘Covid-19: The theatre understudies stepping up to save the show’ – and this was particularly evident in Thursday night’s performance of ‘Jersey Boys’ at the Liverpool Empire.

The role of Franki Valli was played by the incredible Luke Suri, and Norton James, who’s original role is Norm Waxman, took to the stage for only the second time to play Nick Massi. Both were absolutely astounding.

It was evident that the cast had such a close and trusting bond, and so like the true professionals they are, they performed seamlessly. There wasn’t a single moment in the entire performance where it was apparent that changes no doubt had to be made for the show to work.

What I quite appreciated was the educational aspect of the musical. You are opened up to a whole world of what it was like to form a band of this genre in the 1960s/70s. There’s a real gritty reality, revealing the darker sides of fame and growing up in poverty, and how the struggle doesn’t end even once there’s a record deal. This darker side of the script is balanced out perfectly with the hilarious humour, dance moves, intense friendships, and family dynamics.

Speaking of relationships, I particularly enjoyed learning more about what exactly manifested behind the scenes of fortune and fame for the band’s personal lives. The audience is taken on their whirlwind tours – with one stunning scene in which the band turn and face away from the crowd, with the bright lights shining on us instead – as if we are on the stage with them. Yet, once the lights go down and the party’s over, we are shown the reality of the intricacies of each band member’s home life, and how their past is haunting the present. Their old debts and demons, combined with their newfound fame, collide to a climax of chaos and high emotion.

I must also take a moment to show my appreciation for the rest of the cast – particularly the swings and dance captains, who made every set transition slick and effortless. I was also blown away by the live musicians – the drummer did not miss a beat, and blended perfectly with the band, smashing out hit after hit, one wave of nostalgia after another.

The energy was bursting throughout the theatre for the entirety of the show – with everyone on their feet (well before the finale!) But when you hear the intro to ‘Bye Bye Baby’ – how can you resist?

Jersey Boys plays Liverpool Empire until Saturday 5th February 2022.

To buy tickets, visit: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/jersey-boys/liverpool-empire/

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