New Jersey Nights at The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton.
Jersey Boys is an Olivier Award winning musical that brings to life the success of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. New Jersey Nights, on contrary, is a much smaller production which was destined to sit in the other’s shadow- brilliant or not.
American pop-rock group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons enjoyed success in the 1960’s with Oh, What A Night, Sherry and many more. The five-piece have since been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and recently toured with a new line-up.
New Jersey Nights plays tribute to the music of this iconic group. Whilst the show got off to a rocky start, not helped by the half-empty Mayflower Theatre, the small cast worked hard to build some atmosphere and closed the show with the audience on their feet dancing.
Highlights included a tribute to the Grease soundtrack, originally performed by Frankie Valli, and a surprise rendition of some Phil Spector classics, adding some much-needed variety to the show.
Whilst the New Jersey Nights will please most Four Seasons fans unfortunately the set is very minimal, the plot is too loose and the cast often appear to lack confidence. Like many band-related musicals, from Greenday’s American Idiot to We Will Rock You, New Jersey Nights falls into the trap of becoming a tribute act rather than a musical by forgetting the need for a narrative and characters.