Memphis and a Jon Boydon-less Jersey Boys…..

I have been meaning to write this post for ages, but now I am glad I held off because I have more to write about now!! I’m going to start with my birthday. 11/09/2015…..which of course, I am sure you can all figure out, landed me in the JB house. Torture, I know.

I knew The Moffat wouldn’t be doing his Sandy Valli thing because of the fact he was enjoying his honeymoon. Of course, I would never expect him to cancel his honeymoon, fly home and perform for me because it’s my birthday. I did expect it. I’m gutted.

The fact is, he wouldn’t have been performing on my birthday anyways, as it was a Friday…..but as you all know by now…. I’m partial to a bit of Michael Watson. Fine by me. Not a hardship seeing his face on stage is it?

Anyway, I had to work on my birthday morning, and by the time I arrived in London town, I was actually quite stressed. But after seeing my bestie, stuffing myself with a massive birthday burger (with pulled pork, obviously) and a huge glass of wine, I was ready for my birthday Jersey Boys show. Let’s not talk about the fact I am now 29 and have seen Jersey Boys more times than a one direction fan has screamed when they have seen Harry Styles face.

You all know me by now, I’m a bit of a scatter brain and I’m really not a ‘proper organised’ theatre fan, so as I walked in to the JB house, I forgot to look at the cast board. Didn’t even glance. I guess it doesn’t matter who’s on stage anyway when the whole cast is fricking brilliant.

So it was a surprise when Matt Thorpe ran out on the balcony singing his ‘silhouettes’ …. A nice surprise. When I saw him months ago on his debut, he impressed me. His voice is absolutely incredible. He hits those high notes so easy. Since then, Matt has played Frankie quite a few more times and I was interested to see how far he had come. And wow, he blew me away. It’s that voice again, the way he hits those notes. I was smiling throughout the whole show. We also had a Chris Stoddart Bob Gaudio which I have seen three times now, and a nice little Matt Hunt Gyp. It was a cracking show. I would happily sit through a Sandy, Michael or Matt Frankie Valli. They are all incredible and I suppose it is credit to the show itself and the cast they have that I could watch any of them.

Also, I may have slightly demanded that Matt does his own album….. he actually said he’s working on something so waheyyyy, watch this space.

On the 19th of September, I made my way to London again, this time in celebration of the besties birthday. We were going to see the Memphis matinee (which I will talk about soon) and of course, my new saying has now become ‘When In London,….Jersey Boys’ ………… Because I don’t live in London, and the train fares are fricking steep (Been told I swear too much, so trying to change all my Fuckings to Frickings…. going fucking well so far isn’t it?)….. when I am in London, I like to make the most of my time there, and what better than seeing my favourite show. In a usual situation, I wouldn’t dream of going back so soon. I mean…. I only saw the show a week ago, I know what happens, it is quite unlikely there is going to be a plot twist 😉 But I figured it would be OK because Michael Watson was back on as Frankie V, Edd Post was back as Gaudio and for the first time EVER , in my whole Jersey Boys run….. I knew Jon Boydon was off. So in my eyes, it was really a completely different show. I still cringed a little bit that I was there again so soon. I am a proper fangirl and not shy about it, but twice in eight days when I don’t live in London seems a little obsessive….but you know, it happened.

I heard Michael had been ill the last few weeks, so it was great to see him back on stage. Also lovely seeing Edd back. Bloody hell he’s extraordinarily good looking isn’t he?

Let’s talk about my first ever ‘without’ Jon Boydon show shall we?? Listen guys, I adore Jon Boydon. I’m not going to lie. I’m not going to fluff it up with lying about how I was looking forward to the day I wouldn’t see him, because it’s not true. Tommy is my favourite character in the show, and I do credit that to the way Jon plays him. Basically, there aren’t really many more ways I can state the obvious, I am a Jon Boydon fan. And no guys, I am not being disrespectful to Ben Wheeler. Not at all. Me saying I like Jon does not equate to me dissing Ben like a few have claimed on twitter (seriously guys, calm it…. it’s OK to prefer someone in a role over someone else…..) …..the fact is, I really like Ben Wheeler. He is the dance captain of Jersey Boys and part of the furniture. We all go crazy over the main four, but people like Ben Wheeler, Matt Hunt, Joseph Peters,  and so on are the backbones of the show. They hold it all together. Without them, there wouldn’t be a show and I will state again that every member of that cast is bloody talented.

So what I am trying to say in a really bad way, is that I didn’t know what I would feel about seeing Ben Wheeler as Tommy. But luckily, it was incredible. Because much like the three Frankies…… Jon Boydon and Ben Wheeler play Tommy so differently that you can’t compare them. Ben was amazing guys. You were all right. I had no doubt that he would be, but yes, he was a perfect Tommy and SO different to Jon that it didn’t feel like anything was missing. To the way Ben delivers his lines, to the mannerisms of the character, it was a completely new twist (for me as someone who has seen Jons Tommy a gazillion times)….and it was really, really good. I can’t praise Ben enough. When I was trying to explain it to a friend, I ended up saying that Jon plays Tommy with a cocky arrogance. He does, there is no getting away from it. He is confident and sure of himself, and so insistent that he is in the right that you almost believe him. I also see Jons softer sides which is why I think the Tommy character became my favourite. (Before anyone says they aren’t characters, they are real people….I do know. I have said all this before on my blog. The Four Seasons were real, I get it, I am just talking in show terms.) But Ben played it like…. well, more of an annoying older brother. Where as Jon plays it with no doubt that he is the leader, Ben plays it with a bit of bossiness and I loved the way Ben played the scene in the second half where they are talking and they say they will buy Tommy out. Bens reactions were brilliant and he seemed genuinely shocked that Bob Gaudio would dare suggest such a thing. It really was a treat to watch.

While I am here, I may as well discuss a topic that people have noticed on my twitter and facebook. That topic being….. my fangirling over Gary Watson. As I have been slowly clocking up more and more shows, Gary has been becoming more and more great. I fucking (fricking) adore his Nick Massi and yes, it helps he’s gorgeous. So there, I hope that clears things up. I’m sure I didn’t need to explain, it just boils down to I like men, really, in a nutshell….that is it.

So bravo Jersey Boys, a couple of brilliant performances and a hugely talented cast. Best show in the West End…in case I haven’t said it before. (Sssshhhh, I know I have.)

Now let’s talk about Memphis. As above with the whole Jon Boydon thing, I am pretty honest and I am just going to state that I actually didn’t have an interest in seeing Memphis. That sounds bad when saying it like that. I guess what I mean is, I have limited money and come to think of it, with work and the children and distance playing a factor, little time to see these shows. There were many on my list to see that would come before Memphis is probably a better way of putting it. I still really want to see Beautiful, so that is next on the list…. and I want to see Wicked again, also Kinky Boots looks awesome. So combined with all my JB shows which cost money, I have a lot I want to see and Memphis wasn’t near the top.

However , my friend loves it and has seen it a few times, and just as she didn’t hesitate to come watch Jersey Boys with me on day of Birth, I did the same for her re Memphis.

There is an ongoing debate in theatre land over whether ‘celebs or well known’ people should get starring roles in these shows. Truthfully? My opinion is that I think they have as much right to be there as everyone else IF they have the talent. And being that they are on a West End stage, it is likely they do have the talent. Take our beloved Rock Of Ages…. Shayne Ward as Stacee Jaxx. I never saw him in the role but the majority of the RoA fans did, and they loved him. He has a cracking voice.

I saw Nigel Harman in I Can’t Sing…… he’s a big name from TV but has worked bloody hard to establish himself as a stage actor and he was brilliant.

So that brings us to Matt Cardle in Memphis. I heard grumbles when he was cast. Some people weren’t happy. Killian Donnelly is a talented man and I guess he would be hard to replace in any circumstances. But what I would say to the grumblers is to go and watch Matt as Huey in Memphis, then come back to me and say that the ‘big names’ shouldn’t be cast. He fucking nailed it. It’s like that role had been made for him. His facial expressions, his voice, and the thing that surprised me the most….. his acting. I mean, I knew he could sing. I don’t watch X Factor, but I knew who he was. I would like to think anyone that wins X Factor could sing a little bit 😉 So I had no doubt his voice would be pretty good. (It was holy shit balls amazing. Those belting notes he did made me want to throw my underwear at him, just saying.) But he acted on that stage like he was born to do it. As I said, I don’t know much about him but I think he used to be a painter or something? Well his acting was incredible. He made me sad. He made me laugh. He made me adore him. He made me cringe. He was the perfect Huey and I hope he continues to wow the crowds for quite some time.

I saw Rachel John as the lead. Bloody hell. What a voice. Only comparable to when I saw Cynthia in I Can’t Sing. When you see talent like Rachels, you leave the theatre in a bit of a daze. She definitely has a voice that will stick in my memory for a very long time.

The Memphis story was fantastic and I would definitely see it again after initially not really even wanting to see it. And it was nice to see Carly, a former Rock Of Ages cast member on the stage again. Her dancing brought back how great she was in RoA.

So I’ve had a couple of awesome stagey weeks. Good news people, Sandy is back from his honeymoon holibobs and will be making crowds faint again every Tuesday evening and Saturday matinee. Make sure you see it before I book all the tickets 😉

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The_Written_Laura

Inventing the world that's passing by.

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