Eat It, ‘Les Miz’: Pop Music Takes Over Broadway

Becky Bain | November 10, 2009 6:33 pm

Britney Spears: The Opera? New Kids on the Block: The Musical? Could these fake jukebox musicals really become a reality? Well, considering how much influence pop music has on Broadway already…

Ashlee Simpson-Wentz is heading to New York to star in Chicago as Roxie Hart, a role she already played back in 2006 in London’s West End. (If you know anything about musical theatre, you know Roxie Hart is the perfect role for alleged who can’t really sing. Just sayin’.) At least Ash is keeping busy after being fired from Melrose Place, and since her last album didn’t do too well on the charts or with fans, it’s probably best to go back to the one thing she mostly received great reviews from.

Dunkan Sheik wrote Tony-winning Spring Awakening… will U2 have the same success with the Spidey musical? Michael Cohl, rock concert promoter for such acts as the Rolling Stones and U2, is taking over as head producer on the ill-fated musical, Spider Man: Alone in the Dark (that horrendous title pains me to type). According to the New York Times, Cohl is known for being “a man with deep pockets, a Rolodex packed with investors and a knack for presenting entertainment spectacles.” This might guarantee that people will show up, but whether U2 can write for the stage (and for a singer other than Bono), jury’s still out.

American Idiot is heading from Berkeley Rep to Broadway. No dates and no theatre set yet, but this is gonna be the show to get tickets to in 2010.

I saw the so-called Green Day Musical (100% the American Idiot album, about 30% of 21st Century Breakdown, and, sadly, 0% of Dookie) a few weeks ago in San Fran and thought it was simultaneously the angriest and most joyful show I’ve seen. Performing on a minimalist stage decorated like some dive bar from the future, it turned one of the most beloved pop-punk albums from the last decade into a touching rock opera without getting cheesy or jazz-handy or all those other stereotypes of musical theatre. All it needed was the cast crowdsurfing into the audience during the bows and it would be an actual Green Day concert.

Is my review bias? Mmm, perhaps, since I happened to be sitting three rows behind Billie Joe Armstrong and Tre Cool and stared at the back of their heads during song breaks, but that rockstar spotting was just the icing to an already awesome show. If the Green Day songbook can work this well on a stage, I really wouldn’t mind if they tried adapting some more popstars’ albums.

How about you, readers? Which popstar or group’s tunes would you want to see turned into a musical? Oh, Sascha Fierce!, anyone?