So, another birthday been and gone and as is almost customary for me by now after spending the past three birthdays of mine there, I spent it in my favourite city in the world with good friends and a fantastic show!
My first mention of thank you for helping make my birthday special must go to Mr Marcus Lovett. I feel it was a stroke of fate that we weren’t able to able to get our usual parking space up by Piccadilly, because as we drove past Her Majesty’s Theatre, I spotted a gang of people by Stage Door and beamed to myself: ‘Marcus!’ and said to my parents: ‘Can I get out now, please? Marcus is here and I would like to say hello to him’
Sure enough, we parked up, got out of the car and what followed was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had at a London Stage Door. Marcus is one of the warmest, most charming and sincere gentlemen I’ve ever met- and I can’t thank him enough for the fantastic cuddles, the kiss and just generally making me feel so special just for coming to say hello. Our photos are fantastic- the first I wasn’t sure how to go about it as he’s quite tall and I’m sat down in my wheelchair, but he came and stood next to me, kneeling down slightly. I turned to him and joked:
‘Oh, cuddling right in, are we? Brilliant!’
He laughed and replied: ‘Oh yes!’ before putting his arm round me. As I couldn’t get mine around him, I just held his hand.
There was a change for me Stage Door wise as for only the second occasion in all my London theatrical adventures, my dad stuck around to play photographer. Marcus took full advantage of this by insisting Dad take more photos, his enthusiasm was infectious and really made me smile- Dad captured a lovely moment where Marcus gave me a kiss on the cheek! He disappeared for a few minutes and emerged with the most awesome cake in honour of it being cast change, and Marcus would not let me leave without a final photo. He is a joy and I’ll eternally regret not being able to work seeing him onstage. If and when he returns to the London stage, I’ll be there with bells on!
The next big thank you must go to my friends Kris, Sylvia, Lyn & Rachel just for being their usual wonderful selves and sharing the day with me! Ahead of the evening’s fun, Kris and I headed to the Adelphi to book our first visit to The Bodyguard in November to see Beverley Knight & Tristan Gemmill lead the production. I’ve been a fan of both for ages and news of their casting helped me rediscover my love of the phenomenal Whitney Houston’s music so I’m really looking forward to it!
Jersey Boys was, until last month, the show that seemed perpetually on my ‘to see’ list but never quite getting my full attention. After seeing it though, I genuinely do not know what possessed me to leave it so long. When we arrived at the theatre, I noticed the most familiar songs on the posters and said to myself: ‘this is alright; I’ll recognise at the least five or six of these!’ Turns out I knew every single song in the show and could be found singing and dancing along in my seat with a silly happy smile on my face with the more up tempo numbers!
The show tells the story of the Four Seasons- Frankie Valli, Tommy Devito, Nick Massi & Bob Gaudio, their rise to fame and all the highs and lows that come with that. Ben Jennings was on for Ryan Molloy, and I thought he did a stupendous job as Frankie. Particular favourite highlights were: Beggin, Stay, I Can’t Give You Anything But Love and the gorgeous Fallen Angel, sung in the wake of Frankie discovering that his daughter Francine has died of a drug overdose. Ben sang this with such honesty and emotion that I had chills and was moved to tears.
When the four finally come together to sing for the first time in the show over a piano and Bob’s song Cry For Me, I was on tenterhooks and thought to myself: ‘this is going to be special, I can feel it’ and it was. From the minute they opened their mouths I was utterly smitten by the four of them with their infectious energy and I loved every moment of sound that they made, singing or speaking.
Jon Boydon’s Tommy was for me, a complete joy from start to finish. I took to Tommy’s character the most out of the four guys, despite his swagger, slightly cocky attitude and revelation that he racked up debts and owes money to a loan shark (what can I say? I’m drawn to ‘bad’ boys in musicals, it seems!) because I felt instantly endeared to Jon’s portrayal. I loved his voice and his comic timing was right on the money and had me chuckling away at regular intervals. A particular favourite line of mine was in the scene where Bob was introducing his latest song: Walk Like a Man to the rest of the band. Tommy eventually asks:
‘As opposed to what?’Simple enough, but I was cracking up 😀
Edd Post’s Bob Gaudio really made me smile. As the youngest member, in the early stages of the show he’s still a teenager, and as such has this really charming sweetness and naivety about him that I found really likeable. Watching Tommy & Nick have their way with the ladies while Bob looked on dressed in bright blue pjs leading into the brilliant December 1963 (Oh What A Night) was hilarious! I loved watching Bob and Frankie’s friendship develop throughout the show and thought Edd & Ben had great chemistry, as did Jon’s Tommy & David McGranaghan’s Nick- the banter between the latter pair had moments of great humour which again had me laughing out loud.
Nick Massi is probably best described as the ‘quiet one’ out of the band. He has a great ear for harmony and helps tutor Frankie with his singing. He doesn’t speak as much as the other guys do, but when he did it was always to great impact and I felt David played him with great honesty and sincerity. The pivotal moment when Nick decides he wants to leave the band really got to me- I remember getting all teary eyed and going: ‘Oh Nick!’
Not only were our main men superb, the rest of the cast are superb- special mention to Stuart King who was on for Will Barratt as Bob Crewe, and was, to use a showbiz cliché: Fabulous Daaaahling and Nicola Brazil as Frankie’s first wife Mary Delgado.
The final spoken line of the show has Frankie tell the audience that he’s ‘Chasing the Music, Tryin’ To Get Home’ and I can say without doubt that I am constantly trying to chase up a chance to see it again and hear these talented gents belt the hell out of these incredible tunes, hopefully with the added bonus of a fit and well Ryan Molloy! My sincerest thanks to Ben, Jon & Edd for their time afterwards, it was fantastic to meet you all and I’ll definitely be back soon!