By Adam Hetrick
and Kenneth Jones
24 Jan 2011
Baby It's You!, which tells the true-life story of a New Jersey housewife who discovered the all-girl group the Shirelles and became a driving force in the music business, 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 artistic director of the Pasadena Playhouse, where Baby It's You! played a 2009 developmental run. The jukebox musical, which uses the Shirelles' catalogue for its score, will officially open April 27.
Playbill.com previously reported that Leavel (The Drowsy Chaperone, Elf, Mamma Mia!) was being wooed to play the lead role of Greenberg. She will be joined by Christina Sajous, Erica Ash, Kyra DaCosta and Crystal Starr Knighton as the Shirelles.
The Broadway production will be choreographed by Birgitte Mutrux, and have musical supervision and arrangements by Rahn Coleman, orchestrations by Don Sebesky, scenic design by Tony nominee Anna Louizos, costume design by Lizz Wolf, lighting design by Tony Award winner Howell Binkley, sound design by Carl Casella, projection design by Jason H. Thompson, and hair and wig design by David Lawrence. Shelton Becton will serve as musical director and conductor.
Baby It's You! is produced by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures and American Pop Anthology, with Richard Perry as consulting producer.
Here's how producers bill the musical: "Before Motown and the British Invasion, Florence Greenberg took the male-dominated music industry by storm, revolutionizing pop music and becoming the most influential and successful female record company president ever. After discovering one of the greatest girl-groups of all time, The Shirelles, at her daughter’s high school Greenberg packed the girls in her car, drove across the George Washington Bridge to New York City, and embarked on a trailblazing journey from New Jersey housewife to record mogul, creating the independent house of hits that was Scepter Records. Showcasing non-stop doo-wop, pop and rock 'n' roll classics such as "Dedicated To The One I Love," "Duke Of Earl," "He's So Fine," "I Say A Little Prayer," "It's My Party," "Louie Louie," "Mama Said," "Shout," "Sixteen Candles," "Stop In The Name Of Love," "Twist and Shout" and many more, Baby It's You! is the true story of how Florence Greenberg launched the careers of such groundbreaking musical sensations as The Isley Brothers, B.J. Thomas, The Kingsmen, Chuck Jackson, Burt Bacharach, Hal David, and Dionne Warwick."
Tickets for Baby It's You! will go on sale to American Express cardholders Jan. 26 and to the general public Feb. 5. Phone (212) 239-6200, or visit Telecharge.
The Broadhurst Theatre is located at 235 West 44th Street.
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.
Leavel received the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critic Circle and L.A Drama Critics Awards for the title role in the musical comedy The Drowsy Chaperone. Her other Broadway credits include: Elf, Mamma Mia!, Young Frankenstein, 42nd St., Crazy for You, Show Boat and The Civil War. She also appeared as in No, No, Nanette at City Center Encores.
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.