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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Jersey Boys and the power of the Falsetto

I went through a phase, when I was younger, of reading obsessively about the Castrati phenomenon. Castrati singers were incredibly popular in opera in the Baroque period, especially in Italy. Boys with promising voices would be castrated before puberty allowing them to sing much higher, almost equivalent to a female soprano.

Of course this cruel tradition no longer exists, however some men can train their voices to be higher, most often known as a falsetto voice, a particular timbre that has recently become very desirable in pop music. American musician Frankie Valli was known for his unusually powerful falsetto voice. It was his unique sound that made his band The Four Seasons such a success.

The msucial Jersey Boys follows the story of The Four Seasons, and their journey to stardom. The show is currently on at the Prince Edward Theatre, a large venue that gives the rock’n’roll numbers a chance to fill the space, and they do. There are two drum sets – one of which is often on stage and a gloriously large brass section. It is a lot of fun to watch.

Ryan Molloy is outstanding as Frankie Valli, and unsurprisingly won the What’s on Stage People’s Choice Award for Best Actor in a Musical. His voice is stunning and the challenging numbers seem effortless for him. Some find the higher male voice unnatural to listen to, but it is impossible not to enjoy Molloy’s rendition of this rock’n’roll legend. The other band members excel as well: Stephen Ashfield as the genius songwriter Bob Gaudio, Jon Boydon playing cheeky Tommy DeVito and Eugene McCoy as bass player Nick Massi.

This was the slickest production I have seen for a long time, filled with memorable tunes to hum on the way home.

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