”We’ll just put some bleachers out in the sun/And have it on Highway 61.” If you have to produce a Bob Dylan jukebox musical, that’d be the place to do it, but no, it’s opening in San Diego before heading to Broadway. You wouldn’t think the Bobster’s catalog would lend itself to a song-and-dance spectacle (how will Twyla Tharp choreograph 11-minute allegorical dirges like ”Desolation Row”?), much less a sustained narrative with a plot and characters (a la the roundly reviled 2003 movie Masked and Anonymous). Very little about this show sounds encouraging to me, from the title (The Times They Are A-Changin’, duh) to the plot (set in a run-down circus) to the characters (with names like Captain Arab, Coyote, and Cleo — hardcore Dylanologists will catch the references, but who else will care?).
The one aspect that gives me hope is the presence of Tharp, who turned Billy Joel’s catalog into the long-running critic- and crowd-pleaser Movin’ Out. Dylan’s a lot more cryptic, but he also has a lot more songs to choose from. I urge PopWatchers who plan to see the San Diego production, which opens Jan. 25, to report back to us and tell us how it is. Meanwhile, PopWatchers, I’ll ask you if you think this jukebox musical trend has gone too far, or if you think there are still pop composers whose catalogs would make a good Broadway spectacle. Me, I’m holding out for a staging of Frank Zappa’s rock opera Joe’s Garage.
addCredit(“Bob Dylan: Marc Morrison/Retna”)