I am just back from seeing the new cast of Jersey Boys and although I was planning to get a review of Once done first i feel like I should write down my thoughts now while they are still fresh in my memory.
As some of you will know I have been a regular at Jersey Boys since the show started. That means I have seen five casts come and go. A new cast always needs time to settle in and there’s usually the odd one or two people in it who’s portrayal of a part is not to my taste. That’s natural and I have never let this affect my overall enjoyment of the show.
So here I am with Jersey Boys cast number six. Before I start I want you all to know that Jersey Boys has been a vital part of my life for the last five years. I love that show dearly. It will always hold a special place in my heart.
Ryan Molloy continues to lead the cast as Frankie Valli. He’s the Jersey Boys veteran having been with the show right from the start. He gets accused of looking bored on stage now and then and while I do think he has good and not so good days I have nothing but praise for his performance. Even on a not so good day he delivers a top class performance. His voice is flawless and he is a born performer and entertainer. I adore his Frankie, simple as that.
Jon Boydon plays Tommy DeVito for the fourth year. His portrayal is spot on and he gives the show a kind of security. Jon has been a tower of strength during the last three years an he continues to be just that in his year number four.
Edd Post has take over the part of Bob Gaudio after understudying the role for a year. His singing is good yet not amazing which is especially noticeable in “Oh what a night” which lacks strength. Personally I don’t like all of his acting choices. His Bobby comes across as very confident right from the start which means there’s no real development in the character’s behaviour throughout the show. His acting doesn’t seem natural to me sometimes and I am missing proper chemistry between him and Ryan.
David McGranaghan is Nick Massi. Personally I have yet to find someone who can compete with Philip Bulcock’s Nick. But I have so far enjoyed at least parts of the performance of every Nick Massi I’ve seen. Nick has to be likeable. He is the “outsider” in the group despite being one of Frankie’s closest friends and mentor. Yet he is the one the audience needs to fall for – the guy that never really fit in but was such a vital part of the group nevertheless.
My problem with David’s Nick is quite simple: For me he is not likeable. His Nick is like a stubborn teenager who is sulking because he doesn’t get his way. I don’t feel for him, I just want to tell him to pull himself together.
Will Barratt is in my eyes the best addition to the cast. His Bob Crewe is camp without losing his authenticity. It’s nice to see a portrayal of the part again that I can actually relate to. Bob Crewe has been such a vital part of the band’s history. It’s important to not let him lose his dignity by turning him into a walking joke.
The rest of the cast does a good job. I can’t fault the individuals – they handle their parts well. Rebecca Jayne Davies is a rather feisty but cute Francine and Mark Halliday makes a good Donnie & Knuckles. Ben Evans who is now back in the cast, is still a great Joey (on this occasion – the part is usually played by Ben Jennings). And it is nice to see Chris Gardner get an extra appearance right at the start of the show when he takes on the little dance part usually performed by the person playing Bob Crewe.
However, all of this brings me to one major point – Jersey Boys needs a cast that works well together and has great onstage chemistry. After the previous four cast changes I have always felt that chemistry straight away. It’s like a sparkle that makes you aware of what a tight company you are watching.
Sitting in the theatre tonight I realised this sparkle was missing. I was watching the show that has meant so much to me for five years and it just didn’t feel right. There was little chemistry between the four leads. You could catch Ryan turning to Edd during a song and Edd just staring straight ahead and not even acknowledging Ryan. That’s just one example but it stands for what I was missing while watching the show. There was no real bond between the four leads.
That combined with the – in my opinion – not too fitting acting choices of the two new guys resulted in a lack of heart and soul in the show.
Of course, the new cast is still settling in and I’m sure they will work together better with time. But I have to be honest, I was just disappointed after watching the performance tonight. This is not the show I fell in love with. This was just another musical and nothing special.
It saddens me to say this but I won’t be rushing back to see the show again soon. Yes, I will watch it again at some point because after all some of my favourite performer are still in the cast. I won’t stop supporting them and their work. But I won’t be a regular visitor like I used to be over the past five years.
For me this is the end of an era and I’m quite simply devastated (I know that sounds rather dramatic speaking of nothing more than a West End musical). I want nothing but the best for this show and I wish I could keep loving it the way I used to.