Tag Archives: Mark Isherwood

Jersey Boys at the Piccadilly Theatre – 8th August 2015

11 Aug

Some might remember the last time I watched Jersey Boys in the West End. It was 14 months ago and I left the theatre rather disappointed. The show I had been supporting for six years was lacking something and I just didn’t enjoy it anymore. I decided to take a break back then and I stuck to it (apart from one visit to the Broadway production last September).

But on Saturday I found myself taking my seat in the Piccadilly Theatre for the first time since that not so enjoyable performance in May 2014. Normally I don’t review a show again and again but I feel like I have to make it up to the show because it is such a vital part of my theatre going past in the West End and I don’t want my last words about it in this blog to be “It is no fun anymore”.

JB_Edd

So, just like last time Sandy Moffat was on for Frankie Valli. I admit I was worried because I just didn’t like his performance the first time I saw him. But it really needs to be said: Sandy has grown so much over the past months. His Frankie is well-defined and his vocals are good. He looks at ease on stage and handles the big numbers in the show well. He is not the most charismatic or unique Frankie but he fits in perfectly with the rest of the cast and delivers a great performance.

Ben Wheeler’s Tommy De Vito (understudying Jon Boydon) is just as outstanding and wonderful to watch as ever. He has been with the show from the very start and it is a joy to see how much effort he is putting into his performance. As a repeat visitor you will find little nuances that are one hundred percent unique for Ben’s Tommy. As a first time visitor you will see a perfectly balanced portrayal and one hundred percent commitment to the role.

JB_Simon

Edd Post is still in the show playing Bob Gaudio and he does so with a cheeky charm and great vocals. His Bob Gaudio goes from insecure young boy to “Bobby Businessman” in a convincing way – it’s a very slick and professional performance. And despite having been with the show for years Edd’s portrayal feels fresh and full of life.

Gary Watson has joined the cast as Nick Massi in March. I have seen Gary in a few productions over the years (from Saturday Night Fever to A Chorus Line and Fings aint what they used t’be) and he always struck me as a great singer, actor and dancer. In Jersey Boys the acting part is what it is most about and I was curious to see how a rather boyish looking Nick would work in the show. First of all, I am not easily pleased when it comes to Nick. So far only two actors have managed to convince me with their portrayal (Philip Bulcock and Mark Isherwood). Gary’s performance is solid and I can’t fault his portrayal as a whole. I’m not sure I like his intonation though. His voice seemed unnaturally deep and his Nick speaks with a strange slur that doesn’t do anything for me (apart from making me think Nick might have more than just a taste for alcohol). He leaves every single one of his sentence open which means some of Nick’s very on point one liners don’t come across as well as they should. But all in all I think Gary is a good addition to the cast. I have heard people praise his performance which is great – it doesn’t matter I’m not one hundred percent sure about his portrayal if the paying public enjoys seeing his take on the part.

JB_Gary

I’m not going to mention every single member of the current cast but I have to name a few more. Simon Adkins has returned to the show as Bob Crewe. There really are no words for how much I’ve missed him in Jersey Boys. In my eyes Simon is the ultimate Bob Crewe. No other performer has ever come close to his portrayal. In short: I am over the moon to have him back in the show.

Mark Isherwood’s Joey Pesci (understudying Matt Thorpe) is a pure delight to watch. He might not be the perfect fit for Joey but the fact he pulls of such a great performance nevertheless just shows what a great actor he is.

JB_Opening

Last not least: Matthew Hunt’s Gyp de Carlo (understudying Matthew Cutts). At first I thought he might be too young but I was definitely wrong. He oozes authority on that stage and just makes it work. He delivers a very impressive performance and is definitely my favourite new face in Jersey.

The rest of the cast does a good job. The show is in great shape which makes me happy. I will never be a dedicated return visitor again – those days are behind me now. But it’s good to know that I can pay my former second home a visit now and then and be sure I will have fun and leave the theatre with a smile on my face.

Jersey Boys continues at the Piccadilly Theatre. For more info and to book tickets go to http://jerseyboyslondon.com/

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Jersey Boys at the Prince Edward Theatre – 18th August 2012 (matinee)

21 Aug

A lot of you are aware that Jersey Boys is one of my favourite shows of all time. I have been watching the London production pretty much from the start and a trip to Jersey is usually on the agenda when I fly over to London.

After reviewing the new cast just a week after they had started in the show I thought it was time to look at the show again and give my views on the Jersey Boys and Girls after they have been performing on stage together for about 5 months.

On this occasion the cast was led by Jon Lee as Frankie Valli. Now, I admit I have always been a Ryan girl when it comes to Frankie Valli in this show. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy seeing a different Frankie now and then. I adored Jye Frasca’s Frankie and loved both Michael Conway and Dan Burton in the role when I saw them earlier this year.
The problem with Frankie Valli is that the part itself is very one-dimensional for a lead role. The character hardly develops throughout the show. So to make the part interesting the actor playing Frankie needs to have a great stage presence, a brilliant voice and a ton of charisma. I think Jon Lee does fine in the acting department but just doesn’t have the voice for this part. He struggles with the high singing parts and often cuts notes short (the last one can be interpreted as a personal take on the songs but to me it sounds as if he simply can’t hold the notes long enough). And Frankie is a vocally demanding part so it’s no crime to have a problem with those incredibly hard vocals – only if you are alternate Frankie Valli you should be able to deliver the falsetto bits or – if your voice just isn’t suited to that – just adapt the singing accordingly. Jye Frasca did just that by singing parts of the songs just that tiny bit lower and it worked perfectly.
I know a lot of people really rate Jon Lee’s Frankie but I have to say personally his take on the role bores me. He doesn’t manage to interest me in anything Frankie says or does. So I have to say his Frankie just isn’t for me.

Ben Wheeler was on for Tommy at this show. What can I say? He was my very first Tommy back in 2008 and I completely adore his take on the role. Ben’s Tommy is the perfect mix of flirty and dangerous and with him no show is ever exactly like the other. Ben keeps changing little bits of his performance which is wonderful for a returning visitor to the show. You can see that he does everything to keep the part fresh and interesting. I love Jon Boydon’s and Mark Isherwood’s Tommy and also loved Glenn Carter in the part but if I had to choose my number one Tommy of all time Ben would definitely win the gold medal. His take on the part is diverse and I just need to look at him to know what Tommy is thinking at that exact moment.

Bob Gaudio is played by Matt Wycliffe who has taken over from Stephen Ashfield in 2011. I admit Stephen’s Bob will always be impossible to top for me but Matt has definitely made the part his own. He has a brilliant voice and I love how his Bob goes from that slightly insecure boy to the confident man who stands up against Tommy. He manages to portray the change in Bob Gaudio’s behaviour and personality perfectly. Plus he comes across as the nice boy next door which makes the audience fall in love with him straight away.

Eugene McCoy’s Nick Massi is funny, there’s no doubt about that. And his take on the part has grown on me by now. I still prefer Nick to be more reserved but then I am definitely biased because I adored Philip Bulcock’s Nick and no one will ever manage to convince me that there is a better way to play that part. The audience clearly loves Eugene which is wonderful. He has his own unique way of playing the part and I do enjoy seeing him on stage. When I want to be reminded of how Nick should be played in my opinion I can always watch the show when Mark Isherwood is on for the part as his Nick is almost similar to Philip’s Nick.

Nicola Brazil does a wonderful job as Mary Delgado. Her Mary is feisty yet vulnerable at the same time. Trina Hill has really grown into her role. Her Francine is less tough now and I really enjoy her take on “My boyfriend’s back”. I’m still not happy with Howard Jones as Bob Crewe. In my eyes he is just wrong for the part and doesn’t look comfortable on stage. His Bob Crewe is played for the jokes and nothing else and lacks the authority and dignity the character needs (and deserves) to have.  Dan Burton has to be the most confident performer in history (I’m exaggerating here but that’s what it looks like). His Joey Pesci was brilliant right from the start and he’s managed to become even better over the past months. And he never shows the slightest hint of nerves.
I still love having Tee Jaye back in the show. His Barry is wonderfully entertaining and his facial expressions are priceless. Special mention for Mark Isherwood who was on for Donnie at this show. No matter what part he plays he always manages to draw my attention to him. The man oozes charisma on stage no matter if he’s playing Tommy, Nick or the third guy on the left in the ensemble.
The rest of the cast did a great job. It’s especially nice to see how much Chris Gardner has developed as Hank in the last 1,5 years. Mark Carroll was on for Gyp de Carlo and while I do prefer to see Stuart in that part Mark did a great job.

What’s left to say? I love the Jersey Boys! I have seen casts come and go over the years and I will always have my favourites in all the different parts. But the show itself remains one of the slickest productions I have seen in my 15+ years of theatre going.

Go and see Jersey Boys at the Prince Edward Theatre. For more info and to book tickets go to http://www.jerseyboyslondon.com/.

Jersey Boys London, September 18th 2011

22 Sep

Yes, I am a Jersey Boys regular. I’ve been watching the show since July 2008 and have since then seen it more than 100 times (and no, that is no typo!). Jersey Boys is one of those shows that I can see again and again without getting bored. It has a gripping story, fantastic songs and is in my eyes almost flawless.

For all of you that have managed to avoid a trip to Jersey so far: The show tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (with a certain artistic freedom). The fact that it is not just a made up tale but in general the true history of real people is one of the reasons I’m fascinated by this musical. I remember the first time I went to watch Jersey Boys – I had no idea what to expect, all I had seen until then where clips online that had made me want to see the man with the fabulous voice on stage: Ryan Molloy (funny enough he was off sick on my first visit). It only took this one visit to get me hooked. So ever since that day Jersey Boys is on my “to see” list whenever I travel to London.

Once you’ve watched a show a certain amount of times you enjoy a few of change now and then. At least that’s what applies to me. So I am always up for understudy shows at Jersey Boys and I tend to book especially to see certain understudies on stage now and then.

The latest addition to those understudy shows happened on September 18th 2011. I do love Jon Boydon’s Tommy DeVito and I honestly miss Jon whenever I see the show and he’s not there but Ben Wheeler’s Tommy will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s probably a little due to the fact that he was my first ever Tommy back in 2008. But then he’s also a completely awesome performer. His Tommy is the perfect mix of dangerous and flirty, something that is quite hard to achieve. Plus I can basically see what his Tommy is thinking from every little facial expression and gesture. He doesn’t just act from script, he puts life into his performance. Ben’s Tommy is not just a one dimensional bully which makes it so interesting to see the characters development throughout the show.
What made this specific Sunday matinee even better was Mark Isherwood’s Nick Massi. He plays Nick exactly like he should be played (in my eyes at least). Nick Massi is a very defined and rather quiet character with a lot of style so for me it is important that he isn’t portayed as a joke figure. And unfortunately that can happen quite quickly with Nick wanting to “start his own group” all the time and doing the infamous “towel” speech in act 2. Mark’s Nick oozes charisma, simple as that. He’s elegant and laid back which is exactly why said towel speech comes across as a real outbreak of “the quiet one”. And I’d like to add that Mark’s smile really lights up the stage – such amazing stage presence! He needs to be on more often (who do I have to bribe??).
Matt Wycliffe always amazes me with the pure energy he puts into his performance. His Bob is very calm and collected yet he almost explodes (not literally!) with energy during the group songs and “Oh what a night”. And just how beautiful is that voice?! I will always miss Stephen Ashfield as Bob Gaudio, after all I’ve seen him in the show for 3 years. But I’m so glad they found Matt to replace Stephen and I honestly adore his Bob Gaudio.
Who’s missing? The one and only Mr. Molloy, of course. What can I say? He’s the man! I’ve never seen a performer like him on stage before. The guy is amazingly talented and if you ask me his voice is actually better than Frankie Valli’s. Plus Ryan is a born entertainer and that definitely shows in his performance. I sometimes wish he could just completely go for it and – for example – sing “Beggin” like he often does at promotional appearances (those riffs are awesome!!).
I seriously hope this wasn’t the first and last time I have seen these four guys on stage together. Their stage chemistry was fantastic and it was obvious they were having a great time performing together.

Wayne Smith as Bob Crewe always is a highlight in every Jersey Boys performance I attend. Yes, I loved Simon Adkin’s Bob Crewe and I always will. But Wayne really has made the character his own. His Bob Crewe has dignity and that is the most important thing everyone playing this part has to achieve. Bob Crewe was such a vital and important part in the history of the Four Season. As funny as his behaviour in the show is (all that “the stars are in alignment” stuff and so on) he can’t be portrayed as a walking joke. And Wayne manages this perfectly. I love his Bob Crewe and beside Matt Wycliffe he is my favourite addition to the Jersey Boys family.
Chris Gardner is doing a good job as Hank Majewski but I have to say he still doesn’t really covince me in the part. His Hank just seems a bit bland but then the part itself is not exactly the most exciting in the show. I have seen his Bob Gaudio and I really enjoyed his performance in that part so it’s probably rather the character’s than Chris’ fault that I just can’t warm to his Hank.
Jake Samuels has really grown into his role over the last few months. It’s no secret that I miss Joseph Prouse’s Norman Waxman dearly though. Joseph just had some kind of sparkle that Jake unfortunately lacks. He’s really good as Nick Massi though and I hope I get to see him in that part again.
Paul Iveson was on as Donnie/Knuckles. He did well but for some reason Paul never totally amazes me. He is good in every part I’ve seen him in but he hasn’t managed to work his way up to be my favourite in any of them.
Carl Au has developed so much since he started in the show. When I first saw him as Joey Pesci I thought he was way too insecure and not funny at all. But now he’s definitely settled into the role. Seeing his Frankie Valli is still on my list.
The three girls on stage always tend to stand in the shadow of the boys which is a shame. Rachael Wooding’s Mary Delgado is feisty and full of energy. She’s definitely my favourite since Suzy Bastone. Charlie Bull as Lorraine has grown a lot in the role over the last 1,5 years. Her Lorraine is more vulnerable now which makes me feel for the character. And Lauren Hall is by far the best Francine I have seen in the show. It’s fantastic to see what she makes of such a small role. When Francine phones her dad in act 2 I cannot help but wonder what must have happened to that girl to make her so fearful and insecure, something that has never happened to me with any of the other girls I’ve seen as Francine.

Only downside of this performance were certain people in the audience. Don’t you just hate it when people talk loudly during the show? And if you read this, yes I mean you, the two middle aged guys in the second row. So inconsiderate and just plain rude.
But even that can not prevent me from saying that this was one of the best performances of Jersey Boys I have seen in the last couple of months and I was once again reminded why I’ve seen it so many times. I truly love this show and as long as it is running in the West End I will be back for more.

Jersey Boys is showing at the Prince Edwards Theatre. For more info go to http://www.jerseyboyslondon.com/