Saw this last night. I will do my best not to be too hysterical about it, and what follows is just my take on it, not what is gospel...
Some parts of it I enjoyed; mainly the large production numbers of the bigger hits - aside from the ridiculous blow up things in Spice Up Your Life. Choreography was largely very tight too, it seemed. The number Viva Forever was beautifully rendered by Ben Cura too, I adored that arrangement. The pit sounded phenomenal throughout, so hats off to the MD and his team; the sound quality was brilliant and so loud as well; I seem to remember thinking the same coming away from Ghost.
Great performances few and far between. Notably from Hannah as Viva; adored her voice, and loved Kirstie Skivington who was on as Diamond, very well suited. In addition, Hatty Preston's Minty was great, with impeccable timing, but the hash-tag thing began to grate on me towards the end. Sally Ann Triplett and Simon Adkins did solid jobs too, thought they were a bit under-used but can of course see why the focus is largely on the four girls.
Now the book. It's just dreadful. Coarse joke after ridiculous near-profanity after coarse joke after another (etc). Some got laughs, some certainly didn't. I thought Act 1 held up fairly well but about 15 minutes into Act 2 the whole thing just falls apart. It was the first time I've ever felt uncomfortable in a West End theatre. Seated high up in the (near full) Upper Circle, there just reached a point where everyone was looking at each other as if to say, 'what on earth are we witnessing here?'. Cue heads in hands and much muttering and laughing throughout the sparsely thin dialogue that made up the rest of the show. 2 Become 1 is a cringe-fest. Agree with previous posters on the abrupt ending but was nice to see the girls back together one last time. And the blasting mega-mix at the end is all very well but is surely an effort to try and get people to dance away the previous 2 hours' troubles!
I am not going to slag off the actors because I appreciate they all do the best job the can with the material given. But the characters of Suzi, Johnny, Simone, Karen, Lance and to a certain extent, Mitch, I just found so bland and irritating. They added nothing to the story really, and Simone in particular has far too much stage time. The over-arching concept itself is not a bad one at all but it could have been executed so much better. But safe to say, with such a talented cast, I left the theatre disappointed for them: that despite what I am sure is a mammoth effort each night, the end product is largely forgettable.
This cast change takes place on Sunday 10th March 2013. Not all of the names below are officially confirmed by the show, producers or the theatre it should be said; instead they rely on things that have been said at stage door/passed on from that person directly, or via Facebook/Twitter.
Thought this should be started as Dan Burton has announced today that he will be joining 'The Pyjama Game' in Chichester next year, and therefore leaving come March. As contracts are up for renewal soon and auditions are imminent, post any news here!
Leaving: Matthew Wycliffe (Bob Gaudio), Eugene McCoy (Nick Massi), Howard Jones (Bob Crewe), Dan Burton (Joe Pesci), Mark Carroll (Knuckles), Trina Hill (Francine), Michael Conway (Swing)
Staying: Ryan Molloy (Frankie Valli), Edd Post (Bob Gaudio), Jon Boydon (Tommy DeVito), Jon Lee (alt. Frankie Valli), Stuart Milligan (Gyp DeCarlo), Ben Jennings (Joe Pesci), Tee Jaye (Barry Belson), Jake Samuels (Norm Waxman), Chris Gardner (Hank Majewski), Nicola Brazil (Mary Delgado), Lucy Martin (Lorraine), Mark Isherwood (Swing), Ben Wheeler (Swing), Lucinda Gill (Swing), Gemma Whitelam (Swing)
New Cast: David McGranaghan (Nick Massi), Will Barratt (Bob Crewe), Mark Halliday (Knuckles), Rebecca Jayne-Davies (Francine), Stuart King (Swing), Ben Evans (Swing), Michael Watson (Swing)