HE may be from Southend and off stage has an accent that wouldn’t be out of place on EastEnders but Lewis Griffiths admits that bringing Jersey Boys back to Manchester feels like a homecoming.

Lewis played Nick Massi in the original touring production based on the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons which opened in Manchester four years ago.

The show has been one of the most popular musicals in the West End and on Broadway, picking up numerous awards along the way and now it is back at the Palace Theatre as part of a major UK tour.

Lewis, who will reprise the role of Nick, said: “Manchester was the first regional venue we ever played so to be back there again is really special.”

They often say you should never go back, but Lewis had no hesitation about donning the famous red jacket as one of the Four Seasons.

“I always felt as though I had some unfinished business with this role,” he said. “There were no doubts in my mind whatsoever about playing Nick again.”

Nick left Jersey Boys to play the lead role in Dirty Dancing - the part of Johnny Castle, made famous by Patrick Swayze in the movie version.

“That was a very dancey, physical role,” he said. “People know what to expect from that show - they basically require you to be Patrick Swayze whereas Nick has so many different shades of grey in his character.”

Lewis admits that on the face of it, Jersey Boys may appear to be a glitzy juke box-style musical packed with hits.

“That’s the veneer of the show,” he said. “It’s certainly very fast paced and it doesn’t take too long for you to get into the crux of the story. Essentially this is a play with music and this is why I had no second thoughts about coming back. I love the straight acting side of the show.”

Jersey Boys charts the rise of one of the most influential vocal groups of all time; the story of how four boys New Jersey from the wrong side of tracks developed a unique musical style and sold over 175 million records before they were 30.

“Everybody knows their back catalogue even though often they don’t know they are songs by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Working My Way Back to You was done by the Detroit Spinners, the Bay City Rollers did Bye Bye Baby, Andy Williams did Can’t Take My eyes Off You - they are all Four Seasons numbers.

“We’re not imitating the group in any way but we do need to remain faithful to their sound, their style and their legacy. At the same time we’ve got to be ourselves and be true to the story- that’s the challenge.”

The current show is certainly in safe hands with all four lead actors having starred in the production before.

“Although we’ve all played our respective parts in the show we’ve never been on stage together before this tour,” said Lewis.

Nick Massi is perhaps the unsung hero of the Four Seasons.

“He was the arranger in the group and basically created their distinctive sound,” said Lewis.”He’s been described as the sharp, slick, strong silent type and that’s exactly what I’m going for. My version of Nick on this tour is substantially different from when I first played him.

“I learned a lot about Nick and myself when I played him first time round. I gained a lot from being in that show and also from then leaving the show and doing something else. I suppose you gain the wisdom of hindsight.”

As Jersey Boys comes to Manchester Lewis will have spent eight years on the road touring with various productions.

“Whe I got the part first time round I’d told my agent I wanted to stop touring,” he said. “He asked me what role would persuade me to go back on the road and I told him I’d always wanted to be part of Jersey Boys in some way. It turned out the creatives for the show were were looking at me for Nick when they took it on tour and I was up for it immediately.

“I first saw the show in London in 2008 and it blew me away. Never in a million years did I think I was going to be one of the boys in the red jackets

Jersey Boys enjoys a three-week run in Manchester before continuing to tour until March.

“We’re under contract until end of March so I’ve got to end of the tax year to exorcise the Nick Massi demon,” laughed Lewis. “I think then it will be time for me stop touring and look to pursue other avenues.

“But what a way to round things off. There is no better feeling than being up there in that red jacket and to be able to do that in Manchester - it’s come full circle for me.”

Jersey Boys, Palace Theatre, Manchester,Tuesday, January 29 to Saturday, February 16. Details from 0844871 3019 or www.atgtickets.com