IT’S clear the producers of show NEW JERSEY NIGHTS want you to think that the 26 or so Four Seasons songs are the stars.
The 60s doo-wop group with lead singer Frankie Valli perfected the group's high falsetto harmonies. Though their song goes Walk Like A Man, it's not every guy who can do it while sounding as if their trouser equipment is clamped in a painful vice.
But at last night’s sell-out first of four Eden Court performances, the singers were masters of the falsetto art. Sadly, though, they didn’t get a proper name-check and there was no programme to find out more about the show's four-strong onstage band or quartet of dancers either.
It’s a shame because the bottom line of this at-times oddly-put together show - did we really need the Phil Spector Wall Of Sound songs, for example? - is the unfailing quality of the lead voices that have to soar up where Frankie Valli and a few dog whistles do.
Unlike its big more famous brother Jersey Boys, show New Jersey Nights' singers here aren’t playing the Seasons, but talk to us as themselves while the Seasons’ story is sketched out as we go to frame the packed programme of songs.
The four dancers start the show dressed in 50s clothes and energetically throw themselves around a bar set which later is transformed into a recording studio. But a lot of the dancing is quite repetitive though it adds interest on a big stage like Eden Court’s.
The band spend the show up on a mezzanine level above the stage apart from Dean Mongerio who came down to play a tenor sax solo to a solo from singer Ricky Rojas for Earth Angel, one of the night's many high-spots.
Finding the names of the four singers online, it seems Jon Hawkins is the one we didn’t get to hear much on his own (has he just joined the show, maybe?)
But the other three – Duncan Heather plus Aussies Damion Scarcella and Ricky Rojas - take it in turns to take the lead and a lot of the pleasure of the show is getting to know those voices – each strong, each totally individual..
Highlights include Ricky Rojas’ rich vocal battling it out with Dean Mongerio’s solo sax in Earth Angel, the four singing acapella in Silence Is Golden and the energy of the Grease number.
For the songs and vocal performances alone, it's worth heading along to hear some top-class voices soaring and I mean stratospheric - through some iconic Seasons' songs.
By the end, many of the slow-to-warm-up crowd were on their feet and for any Valli or Four Seasons' fans swithering about going along, here's just a selection of what you hear in the show - Why Do Fools Fall In Love, Oh What A Night, Dawn, Rag Doll, My Eyes Adored You, Let's Hang On, Stay, Bye Bye Baby, Big Girls Don't Cry, Sherry, Walk Like A Man, Why Do Fools Fall In Love, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, My Girl Earth Angel, Silence Is Golden, Blue Moon, Working My Way Back Top You, Babe.
The show continues at Eden Court till the last show on Wednesday night.