Review: New Jersey Nights

There’s a rarely a dull moment in this musical tour of the 1960s and 1970s

Tue, Jul 22, 2014, 12:54

New Jersey Nights

Olympia Theatre

**** If the name Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons fails to ring any immediate bells, this immensely gratifying tribute show will remind you just how timeless great music really is. Once the classic hits such as Oh What a Night and Be My Baby start rolling out, I felt right at home in all the cheesy cruise-ship glory of the 1960s white suits, shiny shoes, sultry sax solos and disco ball lighting – even the bop-shoo-oping dancers can sing.

The four male singers exhibit dazzling vocal flare and multi-octave range, with Damion Scarcella and Jon Hawkins leading the quartet in both capability and stage-presence. The signature high-note falsettos in songs such as Sherry and Big Girls Don’t Cry are executed with brilliance by these Jersey Boys and the close harmonies are satisfyingly tight-knit and fluid. Audience interaction is kept to a minimum, allowing a generous number of chart-topping songs to pack a punch in this two-hour production. Variety is ensured with by following a trajectory of greatest hits from the 1960s right through to Grease of 1978. There is rarely a dull moment throughout with frequent set and colourful costume changes, though more care should be taken in fully sealing the side curtains during costume changes, or audience members will be getting far more bang for their buck, as was the case this evening.

Tangents from the stream of Frankie Valli hits are short-lived, leaving us with just a brief taste of the Motown sound of The Temptations. We get similarly humble pickings from the The Crystals, where we see the three female dancers morph effortlessly into the pitch-perfect vocal trio in matching sequin dresses. While the physical synchronicity of the group as a whole is a little patchy, it doesn’t really matter, because the backing band are solid, the singing is superb, and everybody will gain from the infectious feel-good factor this delightful production injects into the audience.

Runs until Aug 2