The good kind of Jersey [by James Wenley]
As I take my seat in the Civic, the Jersey Boy stage looks surprisingly non-descript. It’s a grey and drab industrial looking set, complete with walkways and chain mesh. A pretty ordinary set for an international musical, but then, the origins of the real Jersey blue collar Four Season members were rather ordinary too. Is this to be the stage for the multi-award winning Broadway Smash that has finally wound its way to little young Auckland?
As soon as local boy Vince Harder appears as a modern day French rapper, singing Ces Soirees-La (a hit in France in 2000, we know it better as Oh what a night…), the stage transforms as only mega-budget musicals do, lighting up in brilliant colour and moving all over the place. It’s a spectacle rich experience – microphone stands rise up from the floor, and attractive pop-art graphics on appear screens to accompany the storytelling, but all that is blown away by the blended and distinctive sound of the show’s four leads as The Four Seasons, giving us their all with hit after hit. The most effective moments of the show are the sheer musicality of the foursome as they come right to the edge of the stage, concert style, and perform the tunes. They don’t make songs like these anymore – simple hooks, but packed with emotion, all topped with Frankie Valli’s remarkable falsetto. Or rather, make that Dion Billios’ remarkable falsetto…
Perfectly pitched performance predicted [by Sharu Delilkan]
Having grown up when Grease the movie hit the big screen I was keen to speak to Dion Bilios, when I heard that he was cast to play Frankie Valli in Dodger Theatrical’s production of Jersey Boys – The Story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.
The 24-year-old Sydney-sider’s first comment to me was “There aren’t many opportunities for a short guy to be up front singing, so I jumped at the chance to play Frankie.”
The 5 ft 6 in singer, dancer and actor says although he has never been in a band, getting together with the other three other performers as The Four Seasons – Declan Egan (Bob Gaudio), Anthony Harkin (Tommy De Vito) and Glaston Toft (Nick Massi) – has felt very much like being part of a musical group.
“And with us touring to promote the show, doing a few excerpts from the musical, it almost feels like we’re a band on tour,” he says.
Broadway’s gritty smash hit musical tells the story of how four blue collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks became one of the biggest American pop sensations of all time. Valli, Gaudio, De Vito and Massi joined forces to become The Four Seasons, writing their own hits and developing their unique sound, eventually selling over 175 million records before they were 30 years old.