It might well be 40 or 50 years since The Four Seasons and Frankie Valli topped the charts. But their music is alive and well, blasting out in the hit show New Jersey Nights at the Theatre Royal in Bath.
Even my 26-year-old daughter, who accompanied me, recognised some of the numbers like Be My Baby from cheese nights. But most of the audience was much older and knew almost all the numbers.
The show comprises about 30 of The Four Season’s best known hits, including Oh What a Night, Be My Baby, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like a Man, Silence is Golden, Grease and Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You. They are sung by four men, supported by six dancers and four musicians. The singers caught Valli’s astonishing range of pitch, including his trademark falsetto voice. The dancers perfectly depicted 1960s dance floor, but were a tad disappointing. Maybe I was expecting much more humour and creativity.
For me, the night was a trip back to the 1960s and 1970s when we girls, as we were known then, danced around our handbags to Rag Doll, or Da Do Ron Ron. It was wonderfully evocative music, taking me right back to those far-off days.
The men’s shirts, ties and braces brought back memories, as did the women’s blonde curly hair, pretty dresses and fulsome bikinis. And those poses, did women really strike such pert and upright poses? I think they probably did.
New Jersey Nights is more of a concert than a musical, with the numbers having little introduction and there being no particular plot or story. We heard that the Four Seasons were miffed by the rise of the little known group The Beatles. And we heard in the introduction to Fallen Angel that personal tragedy struck Frankie Valli. But we were not told what the tragedy was. If anyone was looking to learn something about the Four Seasons, they would be disappointed.
But that didn’t affect most of the audience who had almost certainly heard the songs first time around and knew as much about the group as they wanted. They were enjoying themselves and, by the end, almost everyone was dancing, clapping and singing. As we went out, I overheard one woman saying “It was brilliant, just brilliant.” I think that summed up what most people were thinking.
New Jersey Nights continues at the Theatre Royal until Saturday, May 24.