New Jersey Nights – Review by Frances Winston
The Olympia Theatre, Dame Street, Dublin 2.
From Friday July 18th until Saturday August 2nd at 8pm nightly.
Tickets €23-€39 from Ticketmaster and usual outlets
The music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons has enjoyed a huge resurgence in recent years thanks to the musical Jersey boys which was recently adapted for the big screen helmed by none other than Clint Eastwood. Despite this I was still surprised to discover what a huge Irish fan base the Rock ‘n’Roll Hall of famers have. Having appeared in the Gaiety Theatre as recently as last February this touring tribute to the boys is back for a limited run and to say that they got a phenomenal reception from their opening night audience is an understatement.
This isn’t musical theatre – rather it is a journey through the bands back catalogue. None of the performers adopt a character but rather remain themselves while performing the classic hits. And boy do they have a lot of them! Not being of that era (although most of the audience seem to have been) it is easy to overlook how prolific this band were and just how many of their songs are still staples of every pub and cabaret band in the country. From the opening number Oh What A Night to their early hits such as Sherry, Walk Like a Man and Rag Doll to Valli’s solo hits like My Eyes Adored You, Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You and Grease there is not one bum or filler track in here. The set list has been carefully complied so that the pace never falters and all four vocalists get a chance to shine.
Joined on stage by three male and three female dancers each song has its own carefully set mood and the girls get a chance to show what they can do when they take us on a brief journey through the music of the sixties girl bands produced by Phil Spector including The Ronettes smash hit Be My Baby. However this is the guys show and the whole production is slick and professional. They have a great rapport with the audience constantly interacting with them rather than jumping from track to track. Their harmonies are flawless and when they reach for Valli’s famous falsetto it is spot on. Every single person in the room seemed to know all the lyrics and at times their singing was almost drowned out by the audiences. By the end of the evening the entire Olympia was on its feet dancing and singing along and the atmosphere was electric.
If you think you’re not a fan of this kind of music you might be pleasantly surprised and no doubt there will be plenty of numbers here that you didn’t even realise that they sang so eclectic and vast was their output. This is possibly one of the most feel good shows I’ve ever been too and the adoring audience lapped up every single note and lyric. With a real party atmosphere and great performances this is a fantastic night out that will leave you singing along for hours afterwards.