This weekend, the Institution Theater will unveil the sixth installment in their "Jukebox Musical Project," which combines a historical period or event with the music of a popular entertainer with no apparent connection to that event.
The Institution's Asaf Ronen was inspired to create the project after seeing a youtube video created by actress Rachel Bloom using the music of Sugar Ray. "As is my wont," he remembers, "when I see someone else do something, I want to do something like it."
Inspired to create jukebox musicals that would combine "a historical event and an artist that shouldn't appear in that historical event," Ronen quickly noticed the flaw in his plan: creating a show based on history would necessitate doing some research, and as Ronen says, "I hate doing research. And I was like 'what writers do I know that would love to do this and are really strong writers?'."
Enter Courtney Hopkin, who says she loves researching. "One of my favorite things to do is just read long, boring books about historical events, so it really worked out for me."
With Hopkin onboard as writer and Ronen directing, they've teamed up to produce five shows so far: the Black Plague featuring the music of Smashing Pumpkins, the US/USSR space race with the music of Phil Collins, the Salem Witch Trials with Radiohead, the Passover Story with the Cure, and the Italian Renaissance with Queen. This weekend (and this weekend only -- the quick production schedule and short run of these shows is part of their appeal), they'll be staging the latest entry in the series, "Women of the Wild West" featuring the music of Beyoncé.