Jukebox musicals have been popular on Broadway for years, and some — like Mamma Mia! and Jersey Boys — have successfully been turned into movies. With the upcoming release of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, I thought I’d see if I could come up with some jukeboxes of my own. Since the songs don’t actually have to fit the story and can be shoe-horned in no matter what, I figured it can’t be that hard.
featuring the songs of Duran Duran and Power Station
We open in the photography studio of Undone magazine, where famous fashion photographer Derek VonVanten and his best friend, Rich Harrington, sing about all the hot models Derek gets to take pictures of (“Girls On Film”). Derek laments his lack of a real relationship, so Rich suggests they take a much-needed vacation to Rio (“Rio”).
The two fly to Rio and get the whole plane excited as they look out the window and observe the world (“Planet Earth”). In Rio, they are greeted by their guide, Christoph, who invites them to the restaurant on the top of the Christ the Redeemer statue tomorrow night. The men are hesitant, but Christoph and his friends tell them how great it is up there (“A View To A Kill”). They agree to go.
Walking through the city, Derek, Rich, and their new friends bump into three American tourists. One is Devora Keller, who writes for Undone, but Derek doesn’t recognize her because he is always so obsessed with the models (“Girls On Film” reprise). Devora knows who he is, though (“Notorious”), and tells her friends, Babs and Scoot, that he would never be interested in her. Babs and Scoot decide to give her a big makeover and make sure Derek notices her on Monday at the restaurant (“New Moon on Monday”). In the distance, we hear the city of Rio living the high life (“Rio” reprise).
The next morning, Derek, Rich, and Christoph are hungover in Derek’s hotel room. There are beautiful Latin women strewn about the room, sleeping, and the chauffeur comes to whisk the women away (“The Chauffeur”). Derek wakes up and goes to the terrace, where he sings about how he wishes he could be with a woman who is not a model, in an ordinary world (“Ordinary World”). Christoph and Rich also wake up and sing the song, as they, too, wish they could find true love. The three decide to use this trip to find their one-and-onlys.
Meanwhile, Devora and her friends are at a fancy store, updating Devora’s clothing and makeup. They change her name to Barbara (“Electric Barbarella”) to conceal her identity. The three of them make plans to go to the Christ the Redeemer restaurant (“View To A Kill” reprise) that night.
Later, everyone is at the restaurant, singing about how their hunger is comparable to that of a wolf (“Hungry Like the Wolf”). Rich and Scoot meet for the first time, and it is revealed Rich is gay and in the closet. He talks about the type of man he likes (“Wild Boys”), which is just the type of man Scoot is. They kiss, declare their love (“Union of the Snake”), and then part.
Devora (now Barbara) and Derek both try to get the waiter’s attention, each believing they should be served first; the waiter is uncertain whom to help (“All She Wants Is”). Barbara and Derek come face to face to argue, but Derek is taken with her and they begin to dance (“Save a Prayer”). Suddenly, Barbara remembers that she isn’t who she says she is and tells him she cannot be with him. He doesn’t understand (“Is There Something I Should Know”). At the buffet, Babs meets Christoph, who immediately realizes she is his perfect match. They bond over spicy food (“Some Like It Hot”) and decide to elope after dinner.
Barbara escapes to the town square and tears off her fancy clothes and makeup, becoming herself again. She sings about how she is in love with Derek (“Come Undone”). Derek runs into the square, sees her, and knows in his heart it is she he has fallen in love with, even though she doesn’t look like a model anymore. He tells her not to leave him (“Save a Prayer” reprise). She tries to spurn him (“I Don’t Want Your Love”), but can’t help it and falls into his arms. They kiss as the rest of their friends, also now coupled, run into the square and announce they are in love, singing to each other (“Bang a Gong”). Christoph declares, “Well, that’s Rio!” as the cast sings about the city again (“Rio” reprise) and fireworks explode in the background.
featuring one-hit wonders of the ’90s
It’s 1998, and Janet (early twenties) and her father, John (mid forties), run a Seattle coffee house called Bittersweet Symphony. As they open for business one day, Janet, John, and some of their regular customers sing about getting started in the morning (“Jump Around”). Kim, the woman who delivers pastries to the shop and flirts (badly) with John, laments that John is still hung up on his late wife, meaning she can never be his woman (“I Could Never Be Your Woman”). Janet, who wants to be a singer, gets on the shop’s small stage and starts to perform (“One of Us”) but is cut off by John insisting she get back to work and stop “that singing nonsense.”
Meanwhile, the regulars are interacting. Pele, an artist, tries to get Zina, an accountant, to loosen up, saying he doesn’t understand her uptight lifestyle (“How Bizarre”). Zina says being a bitch helps her stay safe (“Bitch”) and leaves in a huff. Glenn, an elderly retiree, tells Pele that Zina has to find her own way, like he did, when he went from being a retiree to the world’s oldest jazz singer, nicknamed “Scatman” (“Scatman”).
Janet gets up to try her song again (“One of Us” reprise). John cuts her off, but Pele, Glenn, and Kim tell her they think she is talented and say they’ll there for her (“I’ll Be There For You”). In the evening, as the customers begin to leave (“Closing Time”), John starts drinking. Janet doesn’t understand what’s going on with him (“What’s Up”), or why he opposes her music career. John tells her to go ahead and leave — he’s been knocked down before but always gets up again (“Tubthumper”). He storms out. Alone and contemplating her options, Janet is torn (“Torn”).
The next morning, John comes into the coffee shop to find Janet lying cold and naked on the floor. She wakes up and tells him she doesn’t know what to do. He says he’s sorry for their fight and doesn’t want to hinder her, but it’s hard since her mother died (“My Own Worst Enemy”). The usual morning people come in for their coffee and food (“Jump Around” reprise), with Zina wearing a more casual and sexy outfit. When everyone notices, she gets uncomfortable and makes fun of herself (“Barbie Girl”). Everyone is glad she has loosened up, and Pele suddenly realizes he loves her. Zina loves him, too, and asks him to stay with her (“Stay (I Missed You)”).
Kim enters and tells John she loves him. He says he’s afraid of having his heart broken again (“Achy Breaky Heart”). Kim understands and says she, too, is a fool for love (“Lovefool”). Kim asks John to consider letting Janet pursue her singing career. She says that she delivers pastries to a recording studio and knows a producer. Everyone tries to convince John that it is the right thing to do. John sings about his fear of losing everything (“Bittersweet Symphony”), but then agrees to let the producer hear Janet sing.
Meanwhile, Pele tells Zina he loves her and that their yin and yang work perfectly together (“She’s So High”). Later in the day, Kim comes back with the producer (“Hotstepper”), who sits with a great cup of coffee and listens to Janet sing (“One of Us”). After her songs, everyone is silent, and then goes wild. The producer says she needs to decide between him and her job and dad (“Two Princes”). John tells Janet to pursue her dream, tells Kim he loves her, too (“Unbelievable”), and asks her to help him run the café. The whole café sings about the magic of music and love (“Groove Is in the Heart”).
You Say You Want A Revolution
featuring the songs of The Beatles
The musical, set in 1774, opens with a young Massachusetts shoemaker, Theodore McSwiggins, walking through the town square greeting his friends (“Here Comes the Sun”). He stares up at the window of the woman he loves, Prudence McCarthy, and asks her to come out (“Dear Prudence”). She sticks her head out and says she has to finish her sewing but will see him soon (“Hello, Goodbye”). He goes to his shoe store and is met by his friend, Nathanial McHuffins, who is quickly becoming a revolutionary and wanting to shake up the colonial government (“Twist and Shout”). Nat convinces Theo to join him in the rebellion (“Helter Skelter”). Theo runs to Prudence’s house to tell her he has to go and fight the British but that she has all his loving (“All My Loving”). He grabs a rifle from one of the militiamen and heads off to war, not knowing what lies ahead (“Magical Mystery Tour”).
The next morning, at Lexington and Concord, the general of the troops, dressed all in yellow, wakes up the army and they go through a montage of training (“Good Morning, Good Morning”). They stop for lunch and all the men talk about where they’d rather be (“Octopus’ Garden”). That evening Theo and Nat bond in their tent over their girls back home, and Nat tells Theo about his girl, Eleanor Rigby (“Hey Jude”).
Suddenly, the shot heard ‘round the world is heard (“Help”). One of the men falls dead. The rest of the men bond together and decide they are ready to fight, charging into the battle (“Revolution”).
One year later, Theo and Nat are still fighting, but many men have died, which makes them cry (“Cry, Baby, Cry”). Their general gruffly tells the men that they have guests arriving, and the men mock him and his yellow uniform when he leaves (“Mean Mr. Mustard”).
Later, Theo and Nat are keeping watch and reminiscing (“In My Life”) when a British soldier sneaks up behind them and holds them at bay with a rifle, arguing that taxes are a good thing (“Taxman”). Nat charges him and is shot. Theo fights with the soldier in slow motion as the rest of the troops gather (“Revolution #1”). Theo kills the soldier. Nat dies in his arms and tell Theo to tell Eleanor he loves her. Theo is devastated (“Blackbird”).
In the morning, the troops are exhausted (“A Hard Day’s Night”). Suddenly, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson show up (“Two of Us”). Theo tells them he isn’t as confident in the cause as he was yesterday (“Yesterday”). Franklin and Jefferson tell Theo and the troops that what they are fighting for is freedom, and that they must all come together (“Come Together”). They explain that Washington is in charge, forming the Continental Army, and will provide whatever they need (“From Me to You”). Franklin explains that a Declaration of Independence is being drafted as they speak (“Free as a Bird”). Once again, the troops are jazzed (“Revolution” reprise), and go off to fight.
Now it is June 1775, at Bunker Hill (“The Fool on the Hill”). The British attack (“Helter Skelter” reprise). The Americans lose, but Theo survives and staggers back home to Prudence (“The Long And Winding Road”). He collapses in her arms, weeping, but proud of himself and his country. They stand and go off to find Eleanor for Nat. The sun sets behind them, and a montage recounts the rest of the Revolutionary War as the original “Let It Be” plays.