Back for the third time in Melbourne, the city where it all began in 2009, this musical is not one to be missed. There is a reason that it won the Tony Award for Best Musical and has successfully returned to Australia to packed audiences. This is because Jersey Boys is one of the best musicals of all time.
Playing The Four Seasons, the 2019 Australian production consists of Cameron MacDonald as Tommy DeVito, Glaston Toft as Nick Massi, Thomas McGuane as Bob Gaudio and Ryan Gonazalez as Frankie Valli. Although I have seen many actors play Frankie Valli over the two previous Australian productions, Ryan Gonzalez’s interpretation of Valli is endearing and emotionally engaging in a way that I had never witnessed prior. Even before he started singing ‘Fallen Angel’ (and mind you, his falsetto is amazing), Gonzalez’s facial expressions and his portrayal of a man in shock from loss his daughter brought me to tears. For fans of the musical from the very beginning, the talented Glaston Toft is a ‘Jersey Boys legend’ having effortlessly returned to the very role that he debuted in a decade ago. I also thoroughly enjoyed Cameron MacDonald’s Tommy DeVito who struggles with life despite his good intentions, and Thomas McGuane’s Bob Guadio who seems young and innocent, but a clever expert when it comes to the music industry.
What I love about Jersey Boys is that it is true story. The Four Seasons aren’t just some made up characters but are based on the lives of real people with real struggles and demons of their own. The way the quartet individually each take turns to break the forth wall, taking audiences through their crazy unbelievable journey of success and sorrow is mesmerising to watch. It is something I have never seen before in any other musical theatre piece and is a unique style of storytelling. With classic tunes such as ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Walk Like A Man’, ‘Oh, What A Night’, ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ and ‘Sherry’, it’s hard not to enjoy Jersey Boys for the educational musical time warp and biopic that it is.
I must admit, at first, I thought that the Regent Theatre would be too big for the production, considering the last two times the musical visited Melbourne, the show played at the Princess Theatre. My worries however, disappeared instantly the moment that the quartet finally formed together on-stage as ‘The Four Seasons’. I found many people tapping along and grooving in their seats to the catchy song numbers, including myself. I also found many in tears during the ballads and was somewhat relieved when I realised I wasn’t the only one sobbing. As the production is at the Regent Theatre, the stage is a lot bigger, the theatre is a lot bigger, the views are unobstructed and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. It would be a crime to miss this show.
It’s been ten years since Jersey Boys had its Australian debut. Despite (to my surprise) returning to Australia for the third time in 2019, the musical is still as beautiful, touching and as wonderful as I remember. I strongly suggest that you see it, and if you have seen this musical before – see it again. Because after this production, I don’t see it returning to Australia again for a long time.
Jersey Boys is currently playing at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne until April 14th with tickets available now through Ticketmaster. Photo by Jeff Busby.