Many will come to Jersey Boys knowing the film version rather than having seen the stage show before.
But maybe that doesn’t matter. As Lewis Griffiths, who plays Nick Massi, says: “Whether it’s written as a novel or performed on stage, it’s a remarkable story of four regular guys who went on to become legends – four guys that came from the wrong side of the tracks and the only thing they happened to be good at was music.”
There weren’t many ways out of the neighbourhood at that time, either the army or you became a star. These guys became stars… though at a price. As the tale which comes to the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, from August 4-15 makes clear, there were mob connections – all part of an epic tale.
“There were ups and downs, highs and lows. It was a rollercoaster.”
Tim Driesen as Frankie Valli, Stephen Webb as Tommy DeVito and Sam Ferriday as Bob Gaudio complete the quartet, the four boys from New Jersey who became one of the most successful bands in pop history, selling 100 million records worldwide before they turned 30. “We start our show in the mid-to-late 80s and then go right the way through every decade they were known for, from the mid-60s when they got their first big hit. They were the first band to have three back-to-back number ones on the American billboard charts.”
For Lewis, part of the fascination is that they were, all four of them, such different characters.
“You had Frankie Valli’s unique voice and tenacity, and you had Bob Gaudio’s writing ability. Frankie was the voice, and Nick was the strong silent type. He founded their sound. He was the vocal arranger. He was the bass player and the bass singer as well. And with Tommy, these four elements were the lynchpin to the Four Seasons’ longevity.”
Adding to the thrill for Lewis was meeting the man himself: “I have met Frankie a couple of times now. He is a living legend. He is amazing. My character is the one that is no longer around, so obviously I am not going to be meeting him, but Frankie was great. He was on BBC Breakfast, and he stood in front of the four of us and said ‘You are so good at doing what you do because you love what you do.’ It was so humbling. As you get older, I suppose you get more enigmatic. We were in the green room at the BBC and were all a bit nervous to meet him. But he was just like an old guy sitting on the sofa drinking his coffee. But he is a star, a proper star, and he has earnt his stripes.”
Jersey Boys will be a happy return to Southampton for Lewis. “Musical theatre is my thing, but this show I am coming to the Mayflower in now is a bit of a game-changer for me. I am getting older. Roles are changing. I love the fact I am playing a more active part rather than an all-singing, all-dancing performance. I am very much about the character and the text in this one.” 02380 711811
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