We got to sit down with producer Jeff Parry to discuss his upcoming project and gain a further insight into this new rock musical
May 16th, 2018.
Ginger in the Theatre were very honoured to be invited along to the press call for the new Musical ‘Jukebox Hero’. Out first ever event like this and it was such an exciting experience!
When I tell you what the show is based on, I am pretty sure that most of you will draw a blank (especially those my age) BUT you will know the vast majority of the songs! This musical is based on the hits from Foreigner which span the past 40 years. They are on par with Journey, Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles yet Foreigner isn’t recognised on their name alone. The creative team have the mission of changing this.
This launch coincides with Foreigners’ 40th anniversary tour and what better in celebrating such a mile stone than with a show to keep this legacy going.
Jukebox Hero has already seen unprecedented success in ticket sales well before the show even had a cast or went into rehearsals.
It has been revealed that the story in place to accompany the music will be a a coming of age story. When I heard this I was a little hesitant as this is something we see very often. I actually sat down with producer, Jeff Parry, to discuss this concern, I will include that part later on and some of the other questions I got to ask him!
I must admit when I saw that the writers were Dick Clement and Ian La Fanais, some of these concerns faded. This pair have been the greats behind the successes Porridge, Auf Wiedersehen Pet, The Bank Job and a rockumentary entitled ‘To Russia with Elton’. So many of their creations have received a wide array of awards. From their successful career, I feel this story will be different to the other run of the mill coming of age pieces. I’m also really hoping the comedy timings from Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen Pet will transpire on stage!
Jukebox Hero – The Musical is set in a fictional, one industry town in Pennsylvania where suddenly this industry closes and everyone is out of work. Prior to this, Ryan left to become a star. The town’s one hope is getting Ryan back to hold a concert to not only raise money but to also lift the spirits of the town.
The show starts its rehearsal process in July and is set to open in Calgary in August.
After the brief conference panel which provided us with more understanding of the show and some unique insights in the initial birth, we got to sit down and chat to Jeff Parry. It was such a great opportunity. Here’s a couple of points we chatted about:
With Jukebox Hero – the musical, I was wondering how you feel it would be received by the younger audience in London when it eventually arrives over here?
That’s a really good question. We were told that this music might not work here at all, which is why we started in North America. Now we are finding out from Royal Albert Hall etc, that it actually means a lot and a younger audience, I mean, at least at home they’ll listen to classic rock all the time. I think great songs permeate through. We were involved with a lot of classic rock type things like The Beatles, if you can call that classic rock, but great songs are great songs. I think kids listen to what they wanna listen to. I listened to Beethoven and Mozart. Great music will always stand up. Initially, it probably won’t be their thing but I think this is the kind of show where a 12-year-old can go with their mother or grandmother and everyone is going to get something out of it. There’s enough hard rock songs as well as ballads that I think it is something that everyone can enjoy, quite frankly. And the music is great music.
There has been a lot of these types of musicals around recently and the biggest criticism is the storyline. How do you think this storyline is different to the others and will actually work well with the music?
Well, you know, it’s not Shakespeare or whatever. We are not reinventing the wheel here but its a fun story. I think that people want to go for escapism so to speak. The story is a fun story like a lot of them and it will probably get criticised for just being that, it’s not Les Mis. It’s a condiment for the music and I think that it will hold up. But once again it is a fun story. The neat thing about it is, ironically, is that it’s a town going through trouble and is saved by rock ’n’ roll in a sense. The irony is that Alberta in Canada, is oil country and we are going through depressions right now. There’s 30% vacancy rate down town. There is a certain irony to what we are doing and how we are doing it. Once of the thing is Alberta is that they are trying to diversify the economy and starting up a musical in Alberta kinda goes along with that. I like the resemblance of the storyline and how it kinda fits with where we are starting it. It’s ironic because it was never an intention.
It’s incredible. Like you said during the conference panel, when you mention Foreigner, not a lot of people say they’ve heard of them. But everyone knows the songs. My reaction to the vast majority of the songs that I’ve listened to was, “Hey, I know that! My mum’s played that in the car”. My real question is, how do you think you will be able to win the UK audience over to buy tickets?
Well thats the irony. We have already sold tickets to something that we haven’t even produced. We have over $300,000 worth of tickets sold in Canada for a show that hasn’t even been created yet so that tells you something because they are already buying tickets for something which they don’t really now what it is yet. There’s a certain brand to Foreigner which seems to sell. But actually I think you have just stated the magic which is that people go to the theatre when people want familiarity, right? They don’t want to sit through songs that they don’t know. So, I think, like you just said, that people will go there and discover Foreigner even though they already know it. There will be a familiarity there that when you put it all together in one context, I think it’s really got a shot because we’re not introducing new songs. But like you said there will also be surprise, ‘Oh, that’s them?’. I’ve heard people saying ‘I thought that was Journey’, ‘I thought that was Styx’ or something like that. They know the songs but they don’t know it is their song. That will be the magic. I always use the example of Mamma Mia. I’m not an ABBA fan. I went to that show kicking and screaming but I went and I loved it. It was fun and I knew every song, whether I wanted to admit it or not. It made you feel comfortable.
You’ve mentioned fun a lot, obviously the writers have worked with a lot of comedy scripts previously. Is there fun in the show?
Oh, yeah. They won’t do it unless there is. It’s just the way they do things. It’s gonna be fun. It will definitely be fun.
I honestly look forward to seeing where this show goes and how it will be received once opened to the audience in August. All the best, guys!
For more information of JukeBox Hero – The Musical check out their website: http://jukeboxheromusical.com You can even sign up to their mailing list on there so you never miss the latest updates on the show.
And if any of this has sparked interest (or you need a little more persuading) here’s a link for the initial trailer. I do highly recommend you watch it as it’ll help you link the songs you most certainly know to the band! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRiVjOu-WHw