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Sunday, April 7, 2013


(The rousing finale of “Jersey Boys”. Photo: Maye-E Wong)

“Jersey Boys” was definitely worth the wait – a superb world class production! (Review by Caroline Smart)

Six years in the planning, Jersey Boys had its South African premiere at the Teatro at Montecasino this evening where it is set to run over the next few months until it moves to Artscape in Cape Town in mid-June.

When a production is hailed at such a high level as this one has been, it’s always a concern that it will not live up to its hype. Absolutely no fear of that here. With its all-South African cast, the newest Broadway musical to be staged in South Africa  is a true-life story of Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi who wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records globally – all before they were thirty!

The time is 1962. In the United States – the tough world of Newark, New Jersey, to be precise. Where, if you kill someone, you have to shoot the witnesses, too! Four young men calling themselves the Four Seasons from the poverty line are struggling to get their music out to the public. Suddenly everything clicks and they blast onto the music scene with a number called Sherry. This was their first charted hit and their first number one song and it was to form a major turning point in their careers.

Handling the roles of this world-famous group with strong energy, artistry and emotional understanding are highly-experienced performers who are well-known on South African stage and screen. With his extensive vocal range – including the requisite falsetto - Grant Almirall is a knockout as Frankie Valli. Daniel Buys is the volatile Tommy DeVito who started the group and changed its name numerous times! Kenneth Meyer is the disarming pianist child prodigy, Bob Gaudio, who composed the Four Seasons songs. Emmanuel Castis is perfectly cast as the laid-back bass player, Nick Massi, who made a major contribution to the band’s unmistakable sound.
The supporting cast multi-tasks and there are some excellent performances. Special mention must be made of Charlie Bouguenon as a suitably sinister gangland boss and Duane Alexander in a highly amusing portrayal of Bob Crewe. Matt Counihan is a delight as the garrulous Joe Pesci. On the female side, there’s Carmen Pretorius (Lorraine) and Taryn-Lee Hudson (Mary) as the two women in Franky Valli’s life and Kirsten Murphy-Rossiter (Francine). Jaco van Rensburg will play Frankie Valli at certain performances.

The musical follows the individual and collective ups and downs of the group and the script is full of clever humour. There are some beautifully poignant scenes amid the powerhouse pop numbers.

It’s a superb world-class production from all aspects - performance, musical, design and technical, with scene changes moving so swiftly they are almost imperceptible. All kudos to resident director Anton Luitingh and Bryan Schimmel, musical supervisor (SA).

Expect to hear great renditions of Big Girls Don’t Cry, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Rag Doll, Fallen Angel, Bye Bye Baby, My Eyes Adored You and many, many more.

Written by Academy Award-winner Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice with music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe, Jersey Boys is the winner of 54 major awards. It is directed by two-time Tony® Award winner Des McAnuff and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo with music direction, vocal arrangements and incidental music by Ron Melrose. The production design team is Klara Zieglerova (Scenic Designer); Jess Goldstein (Costume Designer); Howell Binkley (Lighting Designer); Steve Orich (Orchestrator) and Michael Clark (Projection Designer).

The show is produced by Hazel Feldman of Showtime Management and presented by Investec in association with DSTV, Tsogo Sun, 702 Talk Radio, and Avis. Booking is at Computicket. There are good value Show & Stay packages including accommodation and breakfast at the three Montecasino-based Tsogo Sun hotels or to enjoy a special night of great entertainment including theatre tickets, dining, gaming and added benefits. Visit

My strong advice is - don’t miss this show! I would also suggest that you buy a programme. Apart from being a richly visual and beautifully laid-out publication, it is worth buying for its interesting content. – Caroline Smart