What do comedian Jackie Mason, lawyer Raoul Felder and the son of the playwright who wrote Steambath have in common?
They're all involved in a new, Broadway-targeted musical about the life of songwriter Doc Pomus. Mason and Felder are co-producing Save the Last Dance for Me alongside Jyll Rosenfeld and Fred Krohn, while Josh Friedman (son of dramatist Bruce Jay Friedman) has been tapped to pen the libretto.
Since Playbill On-Line last checked in with producer Felder in April 2000, the script has been completed, and a deal got underway to workshop the show in Minneapolis this summer. "Fred Krohn, one of our backers, owns five theatres," Felder told PBOL (Feb. 6), "so we'll use one of them and work out the kinks. The next step is casting and finding a director. We're shopping now." Felder anticipates a winter 2001-early 2002 Broadway arrival, assuming the current theatre logjam eases a bit.
Back in April 2000, Felder told PBOL that Save the Last Dance for Me will feature more than 20 tunes by Pomus, including "Viva Las Vegas," "This Magic Moment," "Teenager in Love" and the title song.
What's the Felder-Mason connection? Felder is the comedian's attorney and co-producer of his most recent Broadway show, Much Ado About Everything. Also, the two write editorials and op-ed pieces together and have even co-hosted the TV program, "Crossing the Line." What's the Felder-Pomus connection? Pomus, who died eight years ago, was Felder's brother. "It's not just a revue," Felder said of Last Dance, "it's his story. He was physically handicapped throughout his career. Plus, he was a white blues singer, when there was no market for it. Even so, he was a songwriter with wildly successful hits... Then in the 1980s, he stopped writing and became a professional gambler. But in the 1990s he started again, going to the roots of blues music. Now, you'll hear every rock and roll hall of famer singing his songs. There was a tribute album — his music is everywhere."
Felder told Playbill On-Line he got the idea for a Broadway musical about Pomus when he saw Smokey Joe's Cafe. "I saw Leiber and Stoller's show," Felder said, "and it was just a revue. I thought my brother's music was better, and it has a real story, not just `and then I wrote, and then I wrote...'".
Though there's no time-line yet on potential theatres or try-out dates, producer Felder told PBOL in April 2000 he had already raised nearly half the $4 million budget for Save the Last Dance for Me — "and we haven't even solicited yet," Felder noted. "We have over $2 million in pledges already. Everybody wants to get involved in this show."
- By David Lefkowitz