Review: "Baby It's You!"
Bottom line: Another opening, another jukebox clone.
When/Where: Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St.
'Baby,' it's just another jukebox musical
When a short-lived 1985 bio-revue called "Leader of the Pack" used hits from the early '60s to trace the pop-producing/composing career of a Brooklyn woman named Ellie Greenwich, we didn't even have a term for jukebox musical.
Now we have "Baby It's You!," a bio-revue that uses hits from the late '50s and early '60s to trace another pop-producing/composing career, this one of a New Jersey woman named Florence Greenberg.
And now we not only have a term for jukebox musical, but we have seen so many of them that, with rare exceptions, the label has become synonymous with lazy producing and less creativity.
"Baby It's You!" is not one of those exceptions.
Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott, the men behind the jukebox musical "Million Dollar Quartet," have put together another sound-alike package that loosely dramatizes a period in pop history. This one is about the woman who discovered The Shirelles, then began Scepter Records and then moved on to Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach.
Basically, this is another clone concert with a plot tacked on. The best part is Beth Leavel, the no-nonsense talent with the big voice who won a Tony for "The Drowsy Chaperone." She plays Florence, a bored housewife whose clueless but genuinely awful husband (Barry Pearl) can't understand why she might want a job.
Cue "Get a Job."
And so it goes. We watch Florence go from eager amateur to pioneering professional woman. She tries to be a good mom to her blind composer-son (Brandon Uranowitz). She neglects her daughter (Kelli Barrett), even though the girl did discover the schoolgirls who became The Shirelles (Christina Sajous, Erica Ash, Kyra Da Costa, Crystal Starr Knighton).
Then the nice Jewish woman from Jersey dares to fall in love with black composer-producer Luther Dixon (Allan Louis), who wrote "Tonight's the Night," "Mama Said" and "Sixteen Candles."
The hits keep coming. Then they don't. All the while, a hyper-enthusiastic DJ named Jocko (Geno Henderson) sort of ties the years together while a once-over-slightly view of cultural history (drive-ins, Edsels, Sputnik) flashes on four attractive screens. A fine onstage band plays from staggered platforms.
"Once again, the culture of the country had changed!," Jocko bellows as the trends fly by. If only jukebox musicals went with them.
WHAT "Baby It's You!"
WHERE Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St.
INFO $48.50-$126.50; 212-239-6200; babyitsyouonbroadway.com
BOTTOM LINE Another opening, another jukebox clone.