Musical theatre workshops and productions

Jukebox Musicals…

What is a jukebox musical?  I heard someone ask this question the other day….and this person was a regular theatre goer.  When I started to explain to them what it was and what some of the more popular Broadway musicals were, a big smile came on her face.  “Oh, I get it!  I love them!”

A jukebox musical is a show that gets its music from a catalog of existing music!  Mostly – pop music.  And many times they have a common theme – written by the same artists, or around the same time.  I found this list and I am sharing some of the most popular jukebox musicals and some of the “not” so popular ones.

MAMMA MIA –  With a score by ABBA, I saw this in its pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago.  I loved it….but more importantly the rest of the audience went crazy for it.  That is why is why over 60 million people have seen the show and it has grossed over $2B (that is Billion) dollars.

JERSEY BOYS – Ahhh, who doesn’t love The Four Seasons?  I have been hearing those songs for years.  This show ran for 12 years on Broadway.  Then national tours, and a Las Vegas run.  This show is still going on all over the world.

SMOKEY JOE’S CAFÉ –  This is a musical revue (not a book show) featuring 39 pop standards written by songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. It opened on Broadway in 1995, running for 2,036 performances, – that makes it the longest-running musical revue in Broadway history.

GOOD VIBRATIONS – Even though the show had music from the popular Beach Boys, it was a flop on Broadway.  Playing only 94 performances, critics found it predictable and bland.

LEADER OF THE PACK – I saw this show in previews and it was a bit of a mess.  But it was still fun.  The producers were still tinkering with the show during its 53 preview performances (much longer than most shows). I remember the amazing Darlene Love working hard to make the show work.  But alas, it was not meant to be.

Jukebox musicals – people either love them or hate them.  What do you think?

Larry Little

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