Juke Box Hero?

July 04, 2012 by Tomigriffin
Juke Box Hero?
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I started writing juke-box musicals long before Rock of Ages. I was a junior high drama teacher who needed bigger cast shows so I wrote these “things” to give my students more opportunities to sing, dance and act. At the time I never thought of myself as a writer, really, I was just a drama teacher. Parents would ask me why I didn’t sell these “things”. My answer was,” I guess I just never really thought about it.” It was all just for the kids. When I went to grad school my instructors forced us to create; can’t find the perfect show for your HUGE cast, write one. Then I taught IB theatre in Europe which instilled scaffolding; building on what you already know, then learn more and change, and build on that. Okay. I knew when I saw Mama Mia, that I had already been writing juke-box musicals. I mean, I loved St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band! And then when I was in Europe my students turned me onto Across the Universe. I love music and I am not a musician, so I build on what I can do, and love, which is rock-n-roll. When I begin a writing project usually it is for the sake of just writing as in the case of The Road to Shambala. In fact with Shambala I never intended to produce it because I teach in a very conservative area; and, well, my writing is not; conservative, that is. But then my administration got wind and wanted to produce and it just blossomed from there. (Although in the end the censorship police of Mesa Arizona made us change things in the show anyway. I was in the hospital with a broken arm too doped up to fight the changes) but I digress.
I had heard of Rock of Ages, even wanted to see the production as a stage play, but when it was in town I had a production going so I missed it. I didn’t know what it was about, I just knew it was a juke-box musical. Finally, though, the movie came out; now my chance to see it! I still didn’t know what it was about or that Tom Cruise played a ROCK STAR in it until I saw it last night. Wow, I must say, and this begins my review, that I have never been a huge Tom Cruise fan, but he made the movie for me (sorry to hear about his newsest divorce that hurts my heart but I digress again).
Great costumes (Stacee Jaxx's codpiece, better than Henry 8th's), awesome dancing (best pole dances eva!) interesting use of the music, although in my shows I use the entire songs and intertwine more dialogue leading to the songs and connect the pieces together as a whole. I would give the movie a 7.5/10. I chuckled more than once. I lived those days in Hollywood and longed to attend the Whiskey a Go Go and the other rock-n-roll hang outs on the Sunset Strip. But, alas, at the time was held back by a very conservative boyfriend. Damn, all the fun I could have had! I did hang with a couple of groupies, though, that I am proud to still call my friends. By the way there was no strip joint like that on the strip, that I remember.
So now here I am grasping at my inner rock-n-roll wanna-be and writing juke-box-musicals.
My current project stems from my passion for Sammy Hagar’s music, my summers' sequestering in Alaska where the only people who pass by our house are fishermen and kids on their way to church camp, the eagles that fly outside our windows, my Bible thumping friend who constantly advocates for my mustarded seed of faith, my mentoring of foster kids at school, my cheerleading days of old and my inner bad girl. I didn’t start out writing a religious play, but as I was cajoled by students and my Bible thumping neighbor to read the good book, I finally did/am (can’t really call myself educated if I haven’t read The Bible) and thus this play came out of my head. It was the Trinity thing in Three Lock Box, and the Give to Live that really gave me the final idea that the play would be about kids finding Jesus. But I haven’t read the New Testament yet (I am on Jeremiah) so things could change. Oh, how things could change, as my son and hubby are devout Atheists and think the play is Bible thumping. I wouldn’t go that far. It’s more about what a hot blooded young man will do when he finds the right kitty cat;) It’s a love story with pole dancing as cool as Rock of Ages in it!

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