Crowe has transformed his coming-of-age movie “Almost Famous.” The performance, which is now in previews, debuts on November 3. Tom Kitt, a composer, recently praised that any singer-songwriter would write a song.
A friend who saw his Broadway theatrical rendition of Cameron Crowe’s movie “Almost Famous” could not distinguish between the songs Kitt provided and the classics.
However, those timeless tunes also featured works by artists such as Cat Stevens, David Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Elton John.
Kitt, who has won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award, recalls her reaction: “I thought, ‘Well, then I’m doing my job.'” Making everything sound like one voice was part of the plan here, in a manner.
Kitt and Crowe have collaborated to adapt the filmmaker’s intensely autobiographical coming-of-age tale for a modern audience. The play, now in previews, premieres at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on November 3.
The director of the musical, Jeremy Herrin, claims that it “feels like it’s a companion piece to the movie.” It’s a different form of the story in another iteration.
In the early 1970s, the story of “Almost Famous” revolves around a bright and sincere 15-year-old who gets hired by Rolling Stone magazine to write a feature for the fictional mid-level rock band Stillwater.
The story is about a young man who learns that he can express himself honestly and that doing so makes life better for him and those around him. And it’s essential to keep it in mind, says Herrin.
The musical should, in the words of writer-director Cameron Crowe, “create the same feeling” as the movie did. Crowe, who received an Oscar for the movie’s script, was motivated by his childhood memories.
A stage adaptation makes a lot of sense because the movie is about embracing music and features a community that frequently breaks out in song, which is the foundation of musical theatre.
“When I attend a Broadway show, I get the same sense of camaraderie and buzz that you get at a concert. I’ll be in a room with many other individuals, sharing a shared experience while live music and storytelling are being performed. Therefore, I believe there to be a real crossover,” adds lead producer Lia Vollack.
Kate Hudson played Penny Lane, the band’s major groupie or, as she likes to think of herself, its muse, in the movie, which starred Billy Crudup as the lead guitarist of Stillwater, Frances McDormand as the young man’s mother, and both women.
Finding your own family is the story at its core, which is something that many people can identify with, according to Vollack. You can find community outside of your own family, who you love, and who is a part of who you are.
Kitt provided 17 original songs, orchestrated and arranged them, and co-wrote the lyrics with book author Crowe. Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, and Vanilla Sky were already movies he liked.
“I want to write about subjects that concern us, catharsis, and human connection. What are the issues we are trying to solve, and how do we settle on a brilliant solution so that, hopefully, you leave a theatre feeling motivated and eager to tell others about your experience? That was a Cameron Crowe film, in my opinion.
Writing brand-new songs while covering timeless rock tunes like “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, “20th Century Boy” by T. Rex, and “Ramble On” by Zeppelin presented a challenge for Kitt. The music for the movie earned a Grammy.
“The music of the ’70s took me away from Mozart and towards Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, and Billy Joel at my keyboard when I was a classical pianist, just starting to learn in the ’80s,” recalls Kitt. “The task was to compose fresh music in the genre that I adore.”
The musical’s composers decided to fill it with songs that express the characters’ emotions. Therefore, the musical gets a song in place of the movie’s close-up. Kitt frequently mined the movie’s material for lyrics.
Consider “The Night-Time Sky’s Got Nothing on You,” which was inspired by a private conversation the guitarist had with his inspiration. The opening line of Kitt’s song is almost verbatim taken from a line in the movie: “The way you convert a motel into a home/The way you pick up strays wherever you go.”
“That was my aim because Cameron is a poet and writes poetry about things, we experience every day. So it makes sense that that would become a lyric, adds Kitt, who has also worked on the musicals “Next to Normal,” “American Idiot,” by Green Day, and “Jagged Little Pill,” by Alanis Morissette.
The plot would have been more brutal to tell if the producers had just used existing music. They also thought about using only original music but would have to uncomfortably insert John’s “Tiny Dancer,” which is included in a crucial scene. The solution they required was Kitt, who has both authored and collaborated on original works.
According to Vollack, “Tom simply made it all flow together in this beautiful tapestry of this planet and created a seamless world with it.” Tom feels very at ease swimming in both bodies of water.
The creators also used the chance to make some changes, such as giving the mom and Penny Lane’s characters more depth, or as Crowe puts it, “giving these characters a bit more padding in the shoulders.” Both women receive songs, with mom receiving “Elaine’s Lecture” and Penny receiving “The Wind.”
Dignified Strong Female Character
In a testament to Penny’s image as a fantastic, powerful female heroine, Vollack has observed some young women in the Broadway crowd sporting a variation of her recognizable fur-trimmed coat.
Given that Roe v. Wade was being passed at the time, Vollack claims that the women in his narrative have greater rights than women today. Women were gaining those rights for the first time and had control over their own lives and sexuality.
The musical, like the movie, is about discovering who you are and enjoying the moment. The show’s authors reflected on their lives while working on the production.
“We all aspire to have a life-changing experience where we suddenly see our destiny and the person we were supposed to be. It is music in this tale. And the music was it for me, claims Kitt.