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BWW Review: JERSEY BOYS at Chateau Neuf - Oh, What A Night! Jersey Boys Delivers, Firing on All Cylinders

Oh What A Night! Fires on all cylinders

BWW Review: JERSEY BOYS at Chateau Neuf - Oh, What A Night! Jersey Boys Delivers, Firing on All Cylinders

BWW Review: JERSEY BOYS at Chateau Neuf - Oh, What A Night! Jersey Boys Delivers, Firing on All Cylinders I fell in love with Jersey Boys when I discovered the cast recording back in 2006. That recording turned me into a fan of the group The Four Seasons which I honestly didn't know before this. Granted I knew some of the songs, but I found it fascinating that also "my elders" didn't really know the group either. Later I learned that they never toured outside the United states. That could be a reason why the band went under the radar. I saw the musical twice in London and once in Las Vegas although my jetlag almost killed that experience. I had to drink four Red Bulls to stay awake. Luckily I did not need any Red Bull during the Norwegian premiere of this show. The show itself was energy booster enough for me.

Origins

Jersey Boys is a 2004 jukebox musical with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe, and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. Norwegian translation has been done by the show's director, Tore Sergei Myklebust. It is presented in a documentary-style that dramatizes the formation, success and eventual break-up of the 1960s rock 'n' roll group. The musical is structured as four "seasons", each narrated by a different member of the band who gives his own perspective on its history and music. Songs include "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Sherry", "Oh, What A Night", "My Eyes Adored You", "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", "Walk Like A Man" and "Who Loves You". Norwegians will no doubt know some of these songs thanks to the movie "Dirty Dancing", and the song "Beggin''" was a huge hit in Norway a decade ago, thanks to the cover version by Madcon.

Four seasons! Four stories!

The story of The Four Seasons is fascinating, and there is a lot to tell, at times a little too much. Especially first act paces along with in record speed. This is one of the source material's biggest flaws. It cramps in exposition that is not really necessary, with little payoff. But if you just go along the journey and let the guys tell "their version of the story" the perplexity will be at a minimum. Just accept that at this stage of show they do not do full numbers. It is not until the four main group members come together that the "real" music can get the attention it deserves. From there on the show flows flawlessly.

The genius of the show is that it is not a "true" jukebox musical per se. Almost all songs are presented in either the writing room, in studio or as a stage performance. Very seldom are the songs used in a dramatical fashion. It only happens twice and both are during Frankie Valli's true low points in life. But other than that the songs flow in the source material's docu style. Many jukebox musicals have tried and failed making a theatrical piece out of existing material. For every "Mamma Mia there are ten All Shook Ups. Less talked about them the better.

BWW Review: JERSEY BOYS at Chateau Neuf - Oh, What A Night! Jersey Boys Delivers, Firing on All Cylinders

Walk like a man... Sing like a girl...

It is desperately important that the actors are able to move the plot and situations forward, and for the most part they succeed. While the shows main character, Frankie Valli primary demands a singer with a super high falsetto voice, it is also a hard acting role. Atle Pettersen, is first and foremost a singer more than an actor, but he functions remarkably well. His voice sounds so much like Vallie it is uncanny. To sing this material have ruined the voices of many performers before him, but Pettersen never sound strained. His acting is at its best during the scenes involving the band on and off stage. Some of the more dramatic moments he has trouble acting it naturally. I feel there is much more in him to give, but with some more performances under his belt I think this can be improved excitingly.

Strong performances

The role which is most important to have an actor who commands the attention of the audience is Tommy DeVito. Mathias Luppichini delivers in spades. Luppichini is funny in a natural way. He is also dominating, charming and sleek and sings the material perfectly. While Frankie Valli is the common focus in all four narratives, this is DeVito's story for close to half of the first act when it shifts to Bob Gaudio's story. Thankfully Thomas Stokke's Gaudio is likewise a strong performance. Just like Luppichini he narrates in a believable way, and is always interesting and charmingly nerdy. He also has a great voice. Alexander Langset really comes into his own in the second act when he finally gets to voice Nick Massi's perspective of things. Massi's Obsessive-compulsive disorder does not go over well with DeVito (whom he shares room with on tour). This result is hilariously funny anger tantrums. Langset's comical timing is in full use here. If the four main parts do their job well the fourth wall will break and the audience will be not just be a passive spectator, but also be an active component in the shows progress with laughter, applause and some humming along.

BWW Review: JERSEY BOYS at Chateau Neuf - Oh, What A Night! Jersey Boys Delivers, Firing on All Cylinders

Joe Pesci?

The supporting cast is also great. Special mention must go to Lars Jacob Holm who had to do the role of DeCarlo as well as his own, Bob Crewe. Holm is a very talented actor, and he played them so differently that I'm not sure anyone noticed that they were a cast member short. His Crewe is riotously funny and sweet. He serves as the group's parental member who tries to infuse some sort of discipline. Also worth mentioning is Håvard Eikeseth as Joe Pesci (Yes the guy from "Goodfellas" and "Lethal Weapon"). He mimics Pesci in a comical way. Thankfully he never goes to far. This show is a very male dominted show, naturally. Cornellia Børnick (Mary), Lene Kokai Flage (Lorraine) and Guro Karijord (u/s Francine) do what they can with what's written. Børnick does a beautiful "My Eyes Adored You" together with Atle Pettersen at the end of their marriage. One of the really moving moments of act one.

BWW Review: JERSEY BOYS at Chateau Neuf - Oh, What A Night! Jersey Boys Delivers, Firing on All Cylinders

On point and very precise

Director, Tore Sergei Myklebust has done created a spectacular version of "Jersey Boys" . The show flows really well from scene to scene. There are at times many actors on stage, but it never feels clumpy or messy. The blocking is super tight. Kirsty McDonald's choreography is also very fun, and correct for the time. Even though it is very sixties inspired it feels fresh and new. The ensemble are on point and very precise. Especially during the finale they let it rip, and it was super pleasing to see. The set design and costumes are done by Takis. It is not often I say this but I prefer his stage design to the original. Given that the LED technology was not developed back in in 2005, but the LED use in this show is really welcomed, since it makes it easier to follow the very rushed first act. It never feels like LED, and is used in a way that suits the show. Also the proscenium that encompasses the stage is great. The lighting design is done in such a way that it feels like glitter and glam one moment and the run down streets of New Jersey in the next. Brava!

In perfect harmony

The four main guys are at their best when they perform on stage as The Four Seasons. They have a musicality that is so precise and complete that it makes it a joy to witness. Their harmonies are amazing, and is what makes the show in my opinion. We get to go back to the sixties for a couple of hours and have fun.

BWW Review: JERSEY BOYS at Chateau Neuf - Oh, What A Night! Jersey Boys Delivers, Firing on All Cylinders

Beggin'

In the time we are in right now I urge people to support the Norwegian musical theatre. Go see Jersey boys, and also go see Mamma Mia (again), Into the Woods and Mathilda when it arrives later this year. These privately run theatres are in a vulnerable state right now. We have all been thirsting for shows like these, also before the pandemic, it was rare that huge mega productions like these were produced here. The state driven cultural arenas mostly doesn't treat musical theatre as a serious art form. I truly hope that when we get to the other side of this pandemic these producers are still able to deliver true musical theatre like it was meant to be seen. You can make a difference. It is safe and it is great!

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Jersey Boys at Chateau Neuf

  • Book Marshall Brickmann og Rick Elice
  • Music Bob Gaudio
  • Lyrics Bob Gaudio og Bob Crewe
  • Director & Norwegian translation: Tore Sergei Myklebust
  • With Atle Pettersen, Mathias Luppichini, Alexander Langset, Thomas Stokke, Anders Hatlo, Lars Jacob Holm, Cornelia Børnick, Lene Kokai Flage, Sofie Bjerketvedt
  • Choreography Kirsty McDonald
  • Musical Director Hans Einar Apelland
  • Scenic design/Costumes Takis
  • LED content design Mikkel Gythfeldt
  • Sound Design Erik Valderhaug
  • Lighting Design Anders Busch
  • Production photos Tovita Razzi
  • Producers Taran og Starworks

BWW Review: JERSEY BOYS at Chateau Neuf - Oh, What A Night! Jersey Boys Delivers, Firing on All Cylinders



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From This Author - Christian Ranke