Jukebox musicals can take many forms. Maybe you just play through the catalogue with no commentary (like Smokey Joe’s Cafe currently revived at Stage 42 – highly recommended). Or marry it to a plot crafted to explain the sequence of songs (like Mamma Mia!, something I still unbelievably have not seen). Maybe you put it in a framework of an artist’s career (like Beautiful! at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre – pretty darn good). Or maybe you tie it to an Elizabethan popular story – record scratch here – currently appearing at the Hudson Theatre here in New York. Yep they tied the music of The Go-Go’s to an obscure tract from the 16th Century called The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia by the unforgettable Sir Philip Sydney,
They are surprisingly faithful to the old book, though extending some of the already present gender bending to fit the songs. Don’t get me wrong. The music of The Go-Go’s is fun to re-experience. The show is quite entertaining and fast moving. The tech credits are fun and reminiscent of DayGlo painting on a back velvet background – in all the good ways. The cast is amazing and the direction keeps the tale going. The end result is a little weird and has all the jukebox musical failings that keep others down. Hearing all the songs together shows a limited palette. The tying to an absurd framework gets cloying. But one does have fun and leaves one smiling. Any chance we can get more original musicals? Just saying.