May 29, 2006

Brickman & Elice Tell the Jersey Boys’ Story

May 29th, 2006’s Ernio Hernandez discusses how the Jersey Boys’ story came about with co-librettists Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice.

Brickman told,

“It was a pretty good group. Des McAnuff, the director, was really ballsy. We brought him a fifty-page sort of scenario thing, no scenes, just a description and he said ‘Okay, I get it’ and then we went off and wrote it.”

What about all of the talk about Jersey Boys being a “jukebox musical?” Elice explained,

“We approached it in exactly the opposite way. It seems to me that up until now, the shows that you would describe as ‘jukebox musicals’ — which may or may not be ‘jukebox musicals’ — start with a songlist. What we did was we started with a story, a really good story. And the songs came into the story in ways that work dramatically. We never thought about the songs as songs, we thought about them as ways to serve a really good story. And that’s how we were seduced into writing it. We had no idea that it was a jukebox musical, we started on it before that term was even coined. We just wanted to write a good play.”

Brickman concurs:

“Another thing that seems to characterize these ‘jukebox musicals’ is that the dialogue of the story is such that it’s really just glue to hold [the audience until] the next song. But we wanted to make it that the dialogue would be as important, interesting and entertaining and as revelatory as the songs.”

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