By Kenneth Jones
14 Jan 2011
Playbill.com has also learned that Tony Award winner Beth Leavel (The Drowsy Chaperone, Mamma Mia!, Elf) is being wooed to play the role of Florence Greenberg, the New Jersey housewife who found and shaped the girl group (when they were high-schoolers) and created Scepter, a record label for new voices. Baby It's You has a book by 2010 Tony Award nominees Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott, who co-wrote Broadway's Million Dollar Quartet.
Mutrux will co-direct with Sheldon Epps. The New York Post reported on Jan. 13 that Mutrux is no longer co-directing, but Playbill.com has learned that Mutrux and Epps are indeed still helming the show.
No official information about Broadway casting or venue has been released; an official announcement is imminent.
Here's how Pasadena Playhouse characterized the pop-filled Baby It's You! in 2009: "Wrapped in the sensational songs of the '60s, Baby It's You! is the new musical about the groundbreaking girl group, The Shirelles, and Florence Greenberg, the New Jersey housewife who discovered them. With the help of African-American songwriter-producer Luther Dixon, who became her lover, Florence took on a male dominated industry and revolutionized pop music. Her company, Scepter Records, created the most important songs in the golden era of rock 'n' roll, from artists including The Isley Brothers, The Kingsmen, Chuck Jackson and Dionne Warwick."
The Shirelles, a foursome of African-American singers, were known for such hits as "Soldier Boy," "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," "Dedicated to the One I Love," "Mama Said," "Baby It's You," "Foolish Little Girl," "What a Sweet Thing That Was," "Boys" and "I Met Him On a Sunday."
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame describes The Shirelles this way: "Formed in 1957, members Shirley Alston Reeves, Addie 'Micki' Harris, Doris Kenner Jackson and Beverly Lee were high-school students in Passaic, New Jersey. A fellow student heard the Pequellos, as they called themselves, perform at a school talent show. She brought them to the attention of her mother, Florence Greenberg, who owned a small label. Renaming themselves the Shirelles, they released their first hit, 'I Met Him on a Sunday,' on Greenberg's Tiara Records. It was picked up for national distribution from Decca and narrowly missed the Top Forty in 1958. The single established The Shirelles and helped Greenberg launch the legendary Scepter label."
The musical opened Nov. 13, 2009, and played a month of performances in Pasadena, CA. Meeghan Holaway (Off-Broadway's Dinner with Friends) played Florence Greenberg in California. Co-director Epps is artistic director of Pasadena Playhouse.
Mutrux wrote, directed or produced more than 50 films in the last 25 years, including "American Hot Wax," "Scarecrow," "Hollywood Knights," "Urban Cowboy," "The Untouchables," "American Me," "Hillside Strangler," "Freebie and the Bean," "Up in Smoke," "Dick Tracy" and more.
The Broadhurst Theatre is currently home to the limited-engagement production of The Merchant of Venice starring Al Pacino. That run will end Feb. 20.