'Group' gathers for stage antics
The unusual title “Girl Group Time Travelers” pretty much sums up the tuner announced by producers Jeffrey Richards and Michael Rothfeld for a Broadway preem in July.
With the help of more than two dozen No. 1 hit songs from the early 1960s, “GGTT” tells the story of a contempo teen who gets duped by her boyfriend, only to be taken back 40 years by the Sha-La-Las to learn all about “romance, fun and making your boyfriend feel guilty,” Rothfeld said.
The original book is by TV vet Jim Geoghan (“Family Matters”). Debbie Allen, last seen on the Gotham stage in the 1986 “Sweet Charity” revival, makes her Broadway debut as director-choreographer with the project. Allen workshopped “GGTT” last summer in New York City.
Richards and Rothfeld look to cast the musical with 14 to 15 unknowns and employ an orchestra of 11 to 12. They have capitalized the production at $6.5 million-$7.5 million to open at a theater to be announced. There is no out-of-town tryout planned. Creatives on the project include music director Louis St. Louis and costume designer Bob Mackie.
To score “GGTT,” Richards and Rothfeld spent two and a half years securing the rights to 38 singles, ranging in time from 1959’s makeout masterpiece “Theme From ‘A Summer Place’ ” by Max Steiner to Petula Clarke’s “Downtown.” Also to be heard: songs popularized by girl groups the Shirelles, the Marvellettes, the Shangri-Las, the Chiffons and the Crystals, as well as femme vocalists Connie Francis and Leslie Gore, among others. The odes to puppy love include “My Boyfriend’s Back,” “Where the Boys Are,” “I Sold My Heart to the Junkman,” “You Don’t Own Me,” “It’s My Party,” “He’s a Rebel” and “Dedicated to the One I Love.”
Also promised is “Leader of the Pack,” which became the title for a short-lived 1985 Broadway musical featuring the work of songwriters Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry. Music the duo wrote for the Shangri-Las and the Crystals will be heard in “Girl Group Time Travelers,” but not anything they contributed to the Ronettes’ oeuvre.
Richards and Rothfeld’s last Broadway project together was “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man” in 2001. This year, Richards delivers a retro trifecta to the Great White Way. His plate includes 1980s greed with David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross” in May and 1950s union-baiting with “The Pajama Game” in November.