Review: New Jersey Nights at the Theatre Royal Bath
4:50pm Tuesday 20th May 2014 in Theatre By Alexandra Womack, senior reporter covering Yate, Chipping Sodbury, Winterbourne, Frampton Cotterell, Rangeworthy, Wickwar, Hawkesbury, Iron Acton, Coalpit Heath and Old Sodbury
THIS was the second time I’ve seen Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tribute show New Jersey Nights, having partied the night away last year in Bristol, Monday night saw Bath ready to dance to the beat.
With a huge back catalogue of some of the most well-known songs of all time, singers William Hazell, Kris Manuel, Damion Scarcella and Simon Schofield took us through the decades with hit after hit belted out in group numbers and individually.
Rather than telling the story of Frankie and the boys, New Jersey Nights simply honours their music and with a live band on stage and a support cast of five dancers and backing singers, it aims to delight audiences with those familiar high-pitched tunes and irresistible beats.
Opening with the upbeat Oh What a Night, a slightly lacklustre first-half set in New Jersey bar Ruby’s sees the foursome perform early hits Dawn, Beggin’ and the beautiful My Eyes Adored You as well as their first number one Sherry.
Huge hits Bye Bye Baby and Big Girls Don’t Cry got the audience going before dance and vocal ensemble Robyn Ford, Bethany Dows and Chloe Gatward took their turn in the spotlight echoing the sounds of The Crystals and The Ronettes with Be My Baby and Da Do Ron Ron.
Sadly, one of the girls’ overly-curly wigs proved more of a distraction than an addition to their performance and the boys' outfits generally felt a little lacking in love from the costume department.
The second half proved more lively and gave way to a greater diversity of performances opening with hits from mega movies Ghost and My Girl; Unchained Melody and My Girl.
Why Do Fools Fall In Love prompted a resounding hum from the older members of the audience as they trilled away in chorus to this much-loved tune while us children of the eighties enjoyed the original version of Earth Angel, featured in the first Back to the future film, sung by William Hazell.
Damion Scarcella had plenty of chances to show off his high range not least in Unchained Melody and a stunning acapella version of Silence is Golden. The comic moment of the night came with Blue Moon, in which baritone Simon Schofield pretended to mess up his lines and the foursome attempted the song several times in fits of laughter.
Grease, which Frankie Valli penned, was a real highlight with well-choreographed dancing and William Hazell proving he has a versatile style.
Bristol-born dancer Charlie England was one of the best things in this production, displaying huge amounts of energy and enthusiasm, which his fellow male dancer Greg Dodd could have benefitted from an injection of.
The crowd came alive for the finale featuring a megamix of earlier songs and were on their feet, arms swaying, for an elongated version of Bye Bye Baby.
New Jersey Nights was an uplifting evening of musical theatre which clearly delighted many in the audience and had them calling for more.
The production is on at the Theatre Royal Bath until Saturday, May 24.
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