Review: New Jersey Nights, New Theatre, Cardiff
The music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons has inspired several spin-off shows since the success of the musical Jersey Boys, many taking different forms from loose interpretations of the Jersey Boys story to tribute bands.
New Jersey Nights, which opened at Cardiff’s New Theatre on Tuesday evening keeps the focus firmly on the music, performed on stage in the style of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons by Port Talbots own Michael Conway (himself, a time-served West-End Jersey Boy), Duncan Heather, Matt Roberts and Andrew Delong.
Joined on stage from the offset by six dancers, the presentation revisits the sights and sounds of the 1960s with recreations of 60s inspired choreography, soda bars, recording studios and dress trends including waist coats and spats to mini-skirts and bathing costumes.
Renditions of Oh! What A Night (December 63), Begging and Dawn drew the audience into the boy’s on-stage dynamism. However, it wasn’t until the recording studio set was moved away to reveal the presence of the New Jersey Nights band that the atmosphere took full effect with the energy of tracks such as Sherry, Let’s Hang On and Big Girls Don’t Cry commanding everybody’s attention.
The second set appeared to be quite a different show with the singers becoming more playful with the act with solo spots and audience interaction. Ultimately they gained the most appreciation with their Capella rendition of Silence Is Golden (A Four Seasons B-Side that gained chart-topping success for The Tremeloes in The 60s) and a fun version of Blue Moon.
There was also an outstanding rendition of The Penguins Earth Angel, a track favoured by The Four Seasons themselves at live shows.
My only concerns about the show were that I felt the musicians sound was lost a bit at the beginning (although the removal of the set screens seemed to rectify this tremendously as the show progressed ). I also felt that the New Jersey Nights singers should have been given on-stage introductions at some point in the proceedings (because the owners of four incredible voices deserve recognition).
New Jersey Nights is a feelgood show, getting the audience out of their seats, clapping and singing along, even well after the band had stopped playing and taken their bows for a standing ovation.
New Jersey Nights runs at Cardiff’s New Theatre until Saturday.