Home > Blogs > From The Founder: The Definition of a Jukebox Musical

From The Founder: The Definition of a Jukebox Musical

Written By Ken Davenport

Wikipedia is wrong.

According to everyone’s favorite online encyclopedia, “A jukebox musical is a stage or film musical that uses previously released popular songs as its musical score.”

I disagree.

Here’s my definition:

“A jukebox musical is an original stage musical not based on a film that uses previously released popular songs that have no direct relation to the story as its musical score.”

Ok, so I’m no Webster’s.  Let me explain with examples.

Mamma Mia = Jukebox Musical (An original story about a girl searching for her father using Abba music)

All Shook Up = Jukebox Musical (Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night using Elvis tunes)

Jersey Boys = NOT a Jukebox Musical (Four Seasons music telling the Four Seasons story)

See what I mean?  Jersey Boys just doesn’t feel like a Jukebox musical.

Times They Are a Changin’?  Yes.  Movin’ Out?  Yes.  Good Vibrations?  Put another dime in the jukebox, baby.

Lennon?  No.

Lennon is dependent upon that music.  It couldn’t be done with The Carpenters catalog.  Mamma Mia (with a different title), on the other hand, could have been attempted with Lawrence Welk music.  Sure, it would have sucked, but that’s not the point.  Same thing with LoveMusik.  These are Bio Musicals, not jukebox musicals.

Xanadu, Saturday Night Fever . . . not Jukebox musicals.  They are musical adaptations of movies that already had the music integrated.

Here’s what’s crazy . . . both Wiki’s definition and my definition make shows like Crazy For You and Forever Plaid, jukebox musicals.

Maybe we should add something to the definition that states it only applies to shows after 2001 (the year when Mamma Mia hit Broadway).

Any other definitions out there?


Other blogs:

Reviews

  1. Harold Barnes says:

    I am thinking more like a modern day opera. No talking (dialog)-just voices singing the the story along with the music – plus dancing to move it along.

  2. Harold Barnes says:

    I am thinking more like a modern day opera. No talking (dialog)-just voices singing the the story along with the music – plus dancing to move it along.

    I have never said this –to anyone before in my life. So you are wrong.

  3. I agree with Ken’s definition. My jukebox musical A SIGN OF THE TIMES (www.asignofthetimes.com) has an ORIGINAL story that uses previous released recordings from various artists that are integrated into the framework of the story.

Leave a Review

Your email address will not be published.