Jersey Boys is touring the UK again, bringing those hugely loved Franki Valli and the Four Seasons music to theatres across the country.
Blair Gibson plays the role of Bob Gaudio – one of the famous Four Seasons. Blair originally performed the role on a cruise ship, so has had a taste of being part of this epic production. “I love the part, the role and the songs and his relationship with the other guys, so I was really excited to return to the show on land,” Blair told me.
“This is a longer show, the ship is a cut version and there’s no interval, it is all the way through around 95 minutes so there’s a lot of extra scenes, dialogue and some music as well. So it feels like a new show to me.”
Bursting with incredible songs, many of those we wouldn’t have even realised were Four Seasons songs, Jersey Boys isn’t your typical jukebox musical. “It’s like a documentary, it is a show about the Four Seasons and how they started out from practically nothing,” Blair told me. “It’s about their individual personal origins and how they became this band with some of the most famous music there has ever been. Plus there’s so much drama involved that nobody ever knows about until they see the show.
“Some people would expect to come and see the show and it just be a sort of tribute act to the music and it’s purely a night about music, but I think people come away surprised and pleasantly so. That they’ve learned about their lives and the legacy that they’ve created.”
Blair is fascinated by Bob Gaudio and his influence on the band. “Bob is the musician, they are all musicians but he is the compose of their catalogue of music,” Blair said. “The way I interpret him and they mention it in the script, he is always looking forward. He is always thinking about the next step that their careers can take and where the music can go and the legacy he is trying to create. He is not so much about the fame side of it, he is a lot more appreciative of the respect of his peers in the industry.
“He is quite a pragmatist and I kind of relate to that, he is very driven by logic over emotion. He has emotion and he drops little gems that would suggest that, but he is definitely logic driven.”
Blair’s journey playing this role has evolved throughout the last few years. “When I first read the script, I really connected with it. The text is incredible, I think it’s one of the best scripts I’ve ever read and have been able to perform,” he said. “Doing it on the ship twice and then taking it on tour, I’ve had my own life experience to tap into especially after coming back after 18 months of a pandemic.”
Jersey Boys has so much rich content and it is the perfect production for people who might not think musicals are their thing. “It is like watching a movie, watching something that is really intimate on stage. There’s drama, there are highs and lows, there’s humour and then there are familiar songs we all know and love,” Blair explained.
“For example Beggin’ – it’s still in the charts, still in the top ten around the world so for it to be revived so many times that it stays relevant but it started with the Four Seasons.”
Filled with so much story, I asked Blair what his favourite moment in the show is. “For me it would probably be cry for me, it’s the moment where Bob first meets the soon to be Four Seasons and they sing together for the first time,” he said.
“I think it’s a really special moment and also I love to sing the song. It is a really great unknown song that was on a B side of one of their albums – a hidden gem. When they are all singing together and finding that blend with their voices, figuring each other musically, it’s a really special moment.
It’s been a rocky time for theatres, but being back on stage again has been incredible for performers like Blair. “It was mad, it was really crazy. Just because we all spent so long rehearsing and doing tech and then finally we were able to put it all together and show everyone what we’ve got,” he said.
“He standing ovation and applause at the end of the show was incredible, it’s a feeling that never gets old. I am glad we are able to do it again, I am really appreciative of everyone that has come to see it because I definitely don’t think they’d be disappointed. I am really excited to be touring it because you get different audiences absolutely everywhere.”
People still flock to see this musical, whether it’s on in the West End or on tour. Asking Blair why he thinks it has such a huge appeal, he said: “I think it’s down to the music, that’s why people come to see this show because they know the music.
“But I think it’s because they leave having watched something they didn’t quite expect and I think it’s a really good surprise for everyone that comes to see it. You get a proper story, no band is like that anymore and I think their story is timeless.
I want audiences to go home and have the songs in their head for the rest of the month. I want them to leave surprised, to leave happy they came and just that feeling of ecstasy and that buzz – that high that you get in the theatre before you get back to real life.”
Jersey Boys is touring the UK, visit their website to find out more and book tickets.
Photo credit Birgit + Ralf Brinkhoff