Make a new jukebox musical

OK, so Mamma Mia! was way more entertaining than I expected. But I think 90% of that is due to the fact that ABBA has to be, objectively, the absolute pinnacle of pure pop music. (Also, I like Meryl Streep more than I usually do. I like her more as she grows older.)

Because, see, I think one of the reasons that the musical movie “died” in the 60s is that, previously, there was a big stylistic overlap between musical-music and pop-music; a song could *work *in a musical and also work as a chart topper. As rock music became more and more mainstream, and more and more what people expect to hear on the radio, big musicals just couldn’t compete stylistically; rock songs just don’t work in a musical, with very very few exceptions. Anyway, that’s my theory as to the downfall of the musical. I think a lot of the musical’s recent resurgence is that, for most of the recent successful musical movies, someone has found a successful way to incorporate rock/pop music into a musical-plot framework, a combination that has heretofore always assured a whole much less than the sum of its parts.

So choose a pop/rock songbook, and come up with a plot device that will link them together, a la* Mamma Mia!*.

Personally, I’d love to see a musical with the songs of Stephin Merritt.

I detest the concept of the jukebox musical, and I’m a bit too drunk to come up with a plot device, but a few friends and I have been talking about a Journey musical for some time now.

Or Warren Zevon.


I’ve put together a jukebox musical about a returning Vietnam vet. It’s based on the songs of Tom Paxton, and it’s called PAX.

Anyone want to take a chance?

I am seriously surprised someone hasn’t done a musical based on Meat Loaf’s songs. He’s got the musical experience, his hits sound like they’re from musicals, and they’re often narratives and duets. It’d be a pretty basic romance plot, but hey, it works for him.

A semi-biographical Carpenters-based musical would be good, though my preferred story (a downer ending) probably wouldn’t give the musical those “feel good!” vibes that sustain the successful jukeboxes. Maybe make it non-biographical, call it “Superstar,” and have two brother/sister singing duos who meet at a small coffeeshop performance (with one romance blooming as the title song is sung), and they keep crossing paths and romances waxes and wanes (“Hurting Each Other” and other downers), eventually leading to a grand finale when the two duos become two couples and join together in a big finale (opening a Las Vegas show or something).

Whoa, a little too much thought put into that one.

That. Would be awesome.

What could be neat is instead of a single artist, take the music of a single city and set the musical in the city.

Or do the “Cold Case” thing and have all the music be from one year.

Or do the “Singin’ in the Rain” thing and use songs from other musicals.


You might want to look at two popular stage productions that still pop up every once in awhile:

Forever Plaid (Hits from the 50’s sung by four guys ala The Four Tops and Lettermen, etc.)
Beehive (Hits from the 60’s sung by two girl groups - one all black group doing Motown, the other all white doing songs by other groups from that era).