'Baby It's You' goes from Pasadena Playhouse to Broadway
The jukebox musical "Baby It's You" is heading to Broadway, with an opening date set for April 27 at the Broadhurst Theatre. The show -- which follows the career of the Shirelles and recording producer Florence Greenberg -- began its life in Southern California, with workshop productions at the Coast Playhouse in West Hollywood followed by a world premiere at the Pasadena Playhouse in 2009.
Much of the original creative team will be returning for the Broadway run, with the notable exception of actress Meeghan Holaway, who played Greenberg in Pasadena. The role has been taken over by Beth Leavel, who won a Tony Award for "The Drowsy Chaperone" in 2006.
Sheldon Epps, the artistic director of the Pasadena Playhouse, will co-direct the Broadway production with Floyd Mutrux. In the Pasadena production, Mutrux was the sole credited director. Epps has been brought in to co-direct the New York transfer.
The Broadway engagement is produced by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures and American Pop Anthology, with Richard Perry serving as consulting producer. Written by Colin Escott and Mutrux, the musical contains a number of well-known songs, such as "Tonight's the Night," "He's So Fine," "Soldier Boy" and, of course, "Baby It's You!" Escott and Mutrux recently worked on another Broadway jukebox musical, "Million Dollar Quartet."
Times theater critic Charles McNulty wrote in his review of the Pasadena production that the show "has an infectious charm. But these singers deserve a better-written vehicle for the roller coaster of fame than this patchwork musical." He added: "In the annals of jukebox musicals, this one won't reach the average mark without a major rewrite and some recasting of the subpar supporting players."
Meanwhile, another Pasadena Playhouse production with Broadway aspirations -- the Ray Charles musical known as "Unchain My Heart" -- has been languishing in limbo due to a legal battle between producer Stuart Benjamin and his primary investor, Maurice Grant.
-- David Ng
Upper photo: A scene from "Baby It's You" at the Pasadena Playhouse in 2009, with Meegan Holaway and Allan Louis. Credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times
Lower photo: The box office at the Pasadena Playhouse. Credit: Stefano Paltera / For The Times