New Jersey Nights (review). Cast end Valli show on a high note

New Jersey  Nights
New Jersey Nights

Oh what a night. It may have been a foul autumn night outside the Waterside Theatre on Monday but inside there were Four Seasons making the audience feel oh so sunny.

New Jersey Nights, which runs until Saturday, delivers a back catalogue of the sensational doo wop sounds that put Frankie Valli at the top of the charts for 40 years. It’s not to be confused with Jersey Boys, the sensational West End show which..er..delivers the back catalogue of Frankie Valli.

OK, so they’re cashing in on its success, but I’m pretty sure Aylesbury’s first night audience would agree that there’s more than enough space on the circuit for the two shows.

NJN first visited the area in January when it played Milton Keynes Theatre at the start of its national tour. After everyone got over the names mix up they settled down to a night of great entertainment.

The simple format sees a falsetto foursome run through some of Valli’s biggest hits on both sides of the pond. They begin with Oh What A Night and working their way through 30 hits during a lively 90-minute show.

The guys Jon Hawkins, Ricki Rojas, Damion Scarcella and Simon Schofield, were well choreographed and had perfected the recognisable dance style of the close harmony group. I still enjoyed the a capella in the second half even with the very deliberate cock-up before Blue Moon. Ten months of getting it wrong every night and it still raises the expected hoots of laughter from audiences.

The cute Rojas, who has starred at MKT in tours of Grease and The Buddy Holly Story, appeared to have his fan club in who lapped up his charismatic performance.

The remaining three had to make do with the support of the auditorium and they were enthusiastic in their applause.

There’s a lot that is right with this show. The group are a delight to listen to as each one is a talented vocalist in their own right. The show is also a wonderful trip down memory lane to some of the great songs of the last half century (just loved the Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody, Rag Doll and Sherry).

But it’s let down by poor production values. They really need to up their game to the slickness of The Rat Pack, improve the costumes and bring out more of Valli’s story.

I’d also jettison the unco-ordinated group of six dancers who contribute little and distract from the superb singing. The three girl dancers come on at one point and badly mime to Be My Baby by The Ronettes and the Crystals’ Da Do Ron Ron. There are plenty of good female singers out there with a modicum of personality who could make a worthy addition to the production.

But overall this was the boys’ night and they didn’t put a foot wrong. The mega mix finale had everyone on their feet for a singalong.

New Jersey Nights runs until Saturday. For tickets and info call the box office 0844 871 7607 or go online www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury

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