Man behind the stage magic

editorial image
0
Have your say

At the end of the musical Jersey Boys, currently enjoying a successful run at the Lyceum, music director Gareth Weedon appears on stage to take a bow.

And no wonder. In this fast-moving show, which features 34 hit songs and incidental music, he’s the man masterminding the performers and live musicians.

He said: “There’s so much music between the songs, which is used as part of the scene changes.

“There’s drums spinning around the stage and people moving about constantly.

“Before you know it, you’ve got to the end of the performance.”

Gareth said that there are 10 musicians in Jersey Boys including himself, who sit on two podiums in the wings of the stage out of sight.

At other times they will be on stage, so it’s not like a conventional show where a conductor is in the pit and everyone can follow him.

He controls everything by using a series of cameras and he can talk to all the performers and production team through their microphones. They can also speak to him on a special channel in case anything goes wrong.

The performers can also watch him on camera for cues.

He said: “For example, when the actors playing Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio shake hands in one scene, when flesh touches flesh, I have a camera that can zoom in on them to time the cues within an inch of their lives.”

Gareth said that level of organisation is key to keeping the show so slick and fast-moving.

He thinks it is so successful because it tells a fascinating and complicated story of the rise to fame of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons from working-class New Jersey neighbourhoods.

“People talk about jukebox musicals. This definitely isn’t one, there’s a really gritty story to it.

“There are so many hit tracks that you’ve no idea were written by Bob Gaudio from the band.

“Everyone knows the songs and they have no idea they were written by this band 50 years ago.”

He added: “It’s always a great buzz. We’ve done more than 450 shows on the tour so far. “

To ensure that he keeps the quality high, Gareth watches the show from the audience once a week so that he can see the show from their point of view, “just to check that the audience are hearing and seeing what they should be seeing.”

Gareth’s leaving Jersey Boys later this year to fulfill an ambition to open a show in the West End.

He will be moving to Motown the Musical, which is coming over from Broadway and opens in January.

He’s been lucky enough to work with the Motown boss Berry Gordy on the songs that made him a legend.

Jersey Boys is at the Lyceum until Saturday.