February 24, 2008

The Success of Jersey Boys–According to Des McAnuff

February 24th, 2008

John Fleming, St. Petersburg Times Performing Arts Critic, recently had a few words with Jersey Boys’ Director Des McAnuff from London, where he is preparing the West End production of JB, which opens March 18. Here’s a preview of what McAnuff had to say:

Fleming: It’s unusual in how popular Jersey Boys is with men.

McAnuff: This was a band that was driven by male fans. What really distinguished them for me has to do with the whole blue-collar thing. Rag Doll, Dawn, Big Man in Town – they were often writing about people from the working class. They weren’t writing just love songs, they were writing blue-collar love songs.

I think guys identify with these characters. With musicals, you depend on girlfriends, wives, mothers and daughters to create the vanguard for audiences. We find with Jersey Boys that there are a lot of guys leading the way to the box office. It’s the perfect date show.


  1. I find this part very interesting: “We had Candy Girl and Marlena, a great song, as part of a medley of songs with girls names, but it just didn’t work. Peanuts, a quirky little song from the first album, is one I really liked that we didn’t get in. We did manage to get Silence Is Golden and Candy Girl and The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore) into the show’s underscoring. So they’re there subliminally.”

    Wow, those first three mentioned are on my very short list of 4S faves, and if I’m not mistaken, the first two appear on many of the favorites lists of the Fantastic Fan interviewees. I’d have loved to hear them in the show. But ‘Candy Girl’ is in the background? Somebiody help me find that! (I caught ‘Silence’ and Sun,’ but not CG). Wow.

    Comment by stubbleyou — February 24, 2008 @ 4:03 am

  2. I noticed that these types of Blue Collar/Musician themes are still popular today. One Grammy nominated, 2007 hit song, “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White Ts caught my ear just recently. When I listened to the lyrics, I was surprised to hear it was a very similar theme as “Big Man In Town”. In today’s “Alternative” music world, such straightforward feelings seem rare in music by Male artists.

    Comment by Ted Hammond — February 24, 2008 @ 11:23 pm

  3. Ted, “Hey There Delilah” is one of my faves of the current crop. I’m sure you’ve noticed how similar, musically speaking, it is to Simon and Garfunkel’s much earlier “The Boxer,” which also has the theme of the blue collar guy fighting to try to make it in a tough world.

    Comment by stubbleyou — February 25, 2008 @ 2:52 am

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