Melbourne, Australia's Monstrous Theatre is developing a new jukebox musical featuring the songs of Harry Chapin. Titled Short Stories, the project features a book by British screenwriter Mike Bullen and will give an invitation-only industry presentation in February.
Chapin, who died in 1981, was a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter who enjoyed a great deal of success in the 1970s. He's best remembered today for the songs "Cat's in the Cradle" and "Taxi," but Chapin was no stranger to the stage. He penned the score to Cotton Patch Gospel, which played Off-Broadway in 1981; and Broadway's The Night That Made America Famous, which also featured Chapin in the starring role. He also wrote a musical titled Zinger and was working on additional work titled The Last Protest Singer at the time of his death. Lies and Legends: The Musical Stories of Harry Chapin, a revue of the singer-songwriter's non-theatrical songs, played Off-Broadway in 1985. A jukebox biomusical about Chapin's life was reportedly in the works in 2019, though further news from the project has not emerged.
“We’re so excited to be developing this brand-new work, right here in Melbourne," says producer Anton Berezin in a statement. "I’ve been a huge fan of Mike Bullen’s work since I first watched Cold Feet, some 20 years ago, and I grew up with Harry Chapin’s timeless music."
"I first came across the music of Harry Chapin as a young teenager and immediately became a die-hard fan," adds Bullen. "Harry, who was tragically killed in a car accident in 1981, wrote story songs, and I've long felt that they would translate well to the stage. During COVID lockdowns in Sydney, I had the opportunity to test this notion. I wrote a script that linked some of the characters in Harry's most theatrical songs in a story that explores his favorite themes of loneliness and love.
Last year I had lunch in New York with Harry's widow and son who gave their blessing to this project. It was thrilling to me to think that decades since meeting my hero at the end of one of his concerts, I was becoming acquainted with his family. After a career writing for television, I've found it refreshing to write for the stage, something I haven't done since university. I'm delighted to have teamed up with Anton Berezin and Theresa Borg at Monstrous Theatre, whose experience is invaluable. They've assembled a first-rate company to workshop my script with Harry's music. I am excited to see where this next step on the journey of Short Stories takes us.”