For lovers of Broadway dance, the big news of the new season can be summed up in two words: Twyla's coming. After fashioning the songs of Billy Joel into the terrific musical Movin' Out, this time Twyla Tharp is tackling the Bob Dylan songbook. The show, still untitled at this writing, will be unveiled at the Old Globe in San Diego in January, then make its way to Broadway later in the season. There are plenty of other musicals in the pipeline, but for the dance world, this one carries the heaviest expectations. If Tharp pulls off another hit on the order of Movin' Out, she will be rewriting the Broadway rule book once and for all and opening the way for a serious influx of dance-based shows.
Tharp's success with Movin' Out has already had an influence. The recent crop of musicals dedicated to pop composers or performers--the unlamented Good Vibrations, the much more entertaining All Shook Up--is due in no small part to the box office generated by Movin' Out (and, of course, Mamma Mia!). Needless to say, Billy Joel, The Beach Boys, and Elvis Presley are hardly the only pop stars with devoted followings. John Lennon's songs were due to come to the Broadhurst Theater in August, in Lennon, the first musical of the new season. The biographical show was conceived by its director, Don Scardino, and features Joe Malone's choreography. Right behind Lennon, sometime in the fall, Jersey Boys brings the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons to the stage, complete with "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," and their other hits. Sergio Trujillo is choreographing for director Des McAnuff. And in yet another twist on the "greatest hits" formula, Chita Rivera's career on Broadway will be documented in Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life, which opens this month at the Old Globe in San Diego with Broadway its final destination. (See "Reviews & Previews," page 76.)
Rivera, who knows a thing or two about Broadway's ups and downs, would appreciate the long history of another show headed for Broadway, Nefertiti: A Musical Romance. Originally tried out in Chicago in 1977, it's the story of the famed queen of ancient Egypt, circa 1,300 B.C. Christopher Gore, who died in 1988, wrote the book and David Spangler the score, and a tryout played this past spring in Fort Lauderdale. The book has been revised by Gore's brother, Rick, and Robert Johanson is directing and choreographing.
Rivera would also presumably understand the impetus behind In My Life, which begins performances …