There’s another Elton John tuner percolating, and it’s not “Billy Elliot.”
A jukebox musical of John and Bernie Taupin‘s 1970 album about the American West, “Tumbleweed Connection,” recently had its premiere run — in the unorthodox tryout town of Arroyo Grande, Calif.
It played just 12 perfs between Oct. 19 and Nov. 4. But its creator, Christopher Kahn, is hoping to turn “Tumbleweed” into the next “Mamma Mia!”
Kahn, owner of a fitness biz in Beverly Hills, first wrote the musical when he was in high school in the 1970s. More recently he was spurred by the success of catalog tuners such as “Movin’ Out” to return to the show, which weaves the album’s 10 songs, plus five others from the John canon, into a period tale of two brothers from Oklahoma thrown into war.
Kahn’s family is from Arroyo Grande neighbor San Luis Obispo, and he turned the 46-thesp preem of “Tumbleweed” (capitalization: $60,000) into a family affair: One sister was dance captain, two performed in the ensemble and the fourth assisted with the production.
He managed to secure rights to the music solely for the short Arroyo Grande run, in hopes that a further greenlight for future life will come.
Kahn says he has tentative plans to visit Gotham soon to make the rounds of Rialto producers.
“All of this is contingent on Elton and Bernie’s camp letting us go on with this,” Kahn says. “But I’m pretty thoroughly convinced this thing can go all the way to Broadway.”