Industry Pro Newsletter: Concord Theatricals' Catalog Now On Stage Mag

Cara Joy David looks at the journey of ‘Heart of Rock and Roll’ to Broadway

By: Apr. 15, 2024
Industry Pro Newsletter: Concord Theatricals' Catalog Now On Stage Mag
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As news of additional cuts comes from more councils in the UK, in the US, a new piece of legislation looks to support the still struggling live entertainment industry as it emerges into the new normal. As further evidence of the need for such action, we’ve got stories about layoffs at a New Jersey NPR station, as well as another urgest fundraising plea, this one in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Industry Trends

Concord Theatricals' Library Of Shows Now Available on BroadwayWorld Stage Mag With New Partnership

Last week, BroadwayWorld and Concord Theatricals announced that the Concord Theatricals’ library is now available for auto filling on Stage Mag. Licensees of Concord titles can now get their Stage Mag started even faster with just a few clicks automatically filling in much of the show’s primary information.

New STAGE Act Legislation Seeks to Support Struggling Nonprofit Theatres

The introduction of the STAGE Act legislation aims to provide vital support to struggling nonprofit theaters. Designed to alleviate financial burdens, the proposed legislation offers relief measures tailored to the needs of the theater community. If passed, the STAGE Act will play a crucial role in sustaining the operations of nonprofit theaters nationwide. As the theater industry continues to recover from the pandemic's impact, the enactment of this legislation could offer a lifeline to organizations facing financial hardship.

Broadway/New York

Industry Trends Weekly: THE HEART OF ROCK AND ROLL Hits Broadway After Years of Changes by Cara Joy David

Regular readers will know I’m in the middle of a series about award shows, but I'm skipping this week so I can write about the development of one of this spring’s jukebox musicals, The Heart of Rock and Roll. My old friend Gordon Greenberg (represented off-Broadway earlier this season with Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors, which my guest loved so much she still talks about it) is directing it and I recently chatted with him about his decade-long involvement with the show.

We tend to think jukebox musicals come together quickly, but they usually do not. Hollywood guy Tyler Mitchell, a theater novice but a longtime Huey Lewis fan, first approached Lewis with the idea for a musical all the way back in 2009. It took a little convincing, but Lewis got on board (see the recent New York Times story on Lewis for more details on that). Mitchell recruited his friend, Jonathan A. Abrams, to develop the story with him and to draft the book. Then came the search for a director. There wasn’t anything unusual about how Greenberg was chosen—his agent called and asked if he wanted to meet for the gig. Mitchell, then the sole producer, met with a few directors; Greenberg ended up with the job.

“We all shared this vision of creating something that had that feeling of 1980s optimism,” Greenberg said.

Greenberg went into the project thinking if done right it could introduce the next generation to the music he loved growing up. But, to do that, the show needed to be good. Especially with Abrams and Mitchell both new to musical theater, there was work to be done. Abrams asked Greenberg to send him books of relevant musicals. Greenberg selected Mammia Mia! because he thought Heart was “going to be in that world,” Hairspray, Kinky Boots, Holiday Inn because he co-wrote it, and style outlier Fiddler on the Roof simply because he loves it.

Orchestrator/arranger Brian Usifer, who had previously worked with Stephen Oremus on Kinky Boots, joined the team. There was a reading in a tiny rehearsal room in New York featuring current cast member Orville Mendoza and known names who have long since left, such as Orfeh.

Then, eventually, Greenberg brought it to Old Globe Artistic Director Barry Edelstein. Even though Edelstein has been a "mentor and dear friend" to Greenberg, Greenberg said Edelstein didn’t immediately book the show.

“He looked at the script and had questions and I met with him and Jon Abrams in LA and had a whole talk about where we all saw the piece going,” Greenberg explained. “For two years, he really took us under his wing and helped dramaturgically develop this show.”

The team was obviously all working on other things while development was going on, but they kept working. Unless you know theater people, it’s hard to understand how little money is distributed during the development process. It takes love and commitment.

“During this time, it was all about shooting drafts back and forth and getting to a place where we felt like there was a solid plot,” Greenberg said. “Each of the characters, each time we returned to the material, it was like adding another coat of paint or growing roots, not branches. Because there is a lot of trick stuff you do to put on a musical so ultimately it’s delicious and confectionery, like a box of macarons from Ladurée, but it also needs depth and truth and flesh and blood.”

So a party girl went from just being a party girl to one who had recently had a baby with all the complications that entails. And I haven’t seen Heart of Rock and Roll yet, so I can’t tell you if I’m going to agree with everything they decided to do or not do, but I always appreciate the effort that goes into making shows. Here, the team knew jubilation was the ultimate goal, but the team also believed you had to root for these characters in order to feel that jubilation. The music only takes you so far. The history of jukebox musicals tells us that. Story continues, click here for more.


Current: WNET Group Announces Layoffs to Its New Jersey Newsroom, Plans to Cancel NYC Arts

WNET Group announces layoffs in its New Jersey newsroom and plans to cancel NYC Arts programming. The decision reflects organizational restructuring efforts and budgetary constraints. With these changes, WNET Group aims to reallocate resources and streamline operations to adapt to evolving media landscapes. Despite the challenges posed by the layoffs and program cancellations, WNET Group remains committed to delivering high-quality content to its audience.

San Francisco Chronicle: Bay Area Theater That Premiered Oakland Artist's Broadway-Bound Play Now Facing Fundraising Emergency

Aurora Theatre Company faces a fundraising emergency six years after they premiered Eureka Day, recently announced as part of Manhattan Theatre Club's upcoming season. The theater's financial struggles jeopardize its ability to continue operations and support future productions. The community rallies to support the theater, recognizing its significance as a cultural institution and a platform for emerging artists. Amidst the fundraising efforts, stakeholders remain hopeful for a successful resolution to ensure the theater's sustainability.


The Guardian: 'We Must Act Now': Save Birmingham Culture From Cuts

The call to action comes amid growing concerns over the future of cultural institutions in the city. Arts leaders advocate for increased support and investment to preserve Birmingham's rich cultural heritage. Without intervention, the proposed cuts could have devastating consequences for the Royal Ballet, Rep Symphony Orchestra, and other cultural entities.

Sydney Theatre Company Artistic Director Kip Williams Will Step Down at the End of 2024

Sydney Theatre Company announces the departure of Artistic Director Kip Williams at the end of 2024. Williams has led the company with distinction, championing innovative productions and fostering emerging talent during his tenure. As he prepares to step down, Williams reflects on his achievements and looks forward to the company's continued success under new leadership. The announcement marks the end of an era for the Sydney Theatre Company and paves the way for a new chapter in its artistic journey.

Missed our last few newsletters?

April 8, 2024 - New Study Looks to the Preparedness of Arts Orgs to Face Future Challenges

In a sign of an industry on the rebound, Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles is getting ready to announce a return of programming at the Mark Taper Forum, where production was paused last year while the organization went through a budget crunch. Additionally, following the casting of a Black actress in the role of Juliet, an upcoming West End production of Romeo and Juliet from the Jamie Lloyd Company started dealing with racist backlash online - we’ll show you how the company responded.

April 1, 2024 - Grants and Government Spending Impact on Arts Budgets

This week, stories abound about the impact funding can have on the arts - from the UK, an editorial about how the collapse of funding for the creative industry was predictable, with lessons that reach far beyond the UK. In the US, we have stories of both large gifts making a huge impact - including no-cost rentals at 59E59 - as well as the impact of changes to the way Florida is apportioning their arts budget at the state level.

March 25, 2024 - Subscription Study in Pittsburgh
The storm of openings has begun on Broadway, as we prepare for what will be an even busier April leading into the conclusion of the 2023-2024 Broadway season. Amidst that storm, great work continues off-Broadway, as Cara Joy David reminds us when she pays a visit to Dead Outlaw. In regional news, a new study of the subscription model offers some insight in Pittsburgh, and the Garden Theatre in Orlando issues an apology that they themselves acknowledge as being long overdue.

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