Here come the jukebox musicals
Spotlight Artists Centre’s latest musical, “DOM—Dirty Old Musical,” recently ended its run at Music Museum. What made it trendy was its being a “jukebox” musical, meaning that most of its songs were previously written as individual compositions and have now been compiled and reworked for the new production’s purposes.
The new trend was first popularized many years ago by hits like “Mamma Mia!,” which showcased the iconic anthems of the Abba quartet.
That pioneering musical sensation thought up a plotline about one woman involved with a number of men in the past, each of whom thought that he was the father of the now grown-up daughter she was about to marry off.
Other examples include “The Boys from Oz,” “Jersey Boys,” “Rock of Ages,” “On Your Feet,” “After Midnight,” “Ring of Fire” and “All Shook Up.”
On the local theater scene, the jukebox musical format has been most successfully represented by Peta’s “Rak of Aegis,” which features the songs of the “masa-friendly” Aegis band. It’s had several hit runs, and could be staged again next year.
Other local jukebox musicals have showcased the songs of Francis Magalona, Yeng Constantino and the Apo Hiking Society.
“DOM” is different from those productions, because it doesn’t restrict itself to the songs of one composer, but includes some of the period hits penned by many songsmiths.
What pulls them together is a simple plotline—and the production’s overarching intention to nostalgically pay tribute to the Pinoy “soundtrack” of now-mature pop-music buffs’ lives, from the ’70s and ’80s.
The success that jukebox musicals are currently enjoying makes it a no-brainer to predict that more of such “compilations” work will be created and produced next year.
So, some governing rules and considerations should be firmed up to help make sure that the new works will be similarly successful.
The “defining” example set by “Rak of Aegis” strongly suggests that “masa-friendly” songs and composers are key.
Songs about students, young adults, millennials and other people under 30 are also preferred—because if they click, they can be restaged again and again, and will sequentially be patronized by new batches of young music buffs. Yes, “DOM” is about middle-aged men and their “issues and itches”—but it’s the exception that proves the rule, and is becoming popular in its own right because it “speaks and sings” to a niche of seniors. They’ve emerged as a fast-growing demographic in this country, due to many medical advances.
Even more relevant to its success is that some seniors have deep pockets, so they’re ready, willing and able to support stage productions about them!