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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Rebooting Clueless: The Musical

Almost five years ago, I saw the off-Broadway production of Clueless: The Musical and found it a disappointingly pallid version of the immortal 1995 movie, whose update of Emma remains among the all-time greatest Jane Austen adaptations.

Clueless: The Musical acquired its “musical” status by dressing up the original screenplay with ‘90s pop songs featuring new lyrics by Amy Heckerling, who wrote and directed the movie. At the time, I noted that the show had left me “wishing that Heckerling had just hired a decent composer and created some catchy original music, instead of rehashing the sometimes mediocre hits of decades past.”

Apparently, Heckerling reads my blog! (As if.)

It is also possible that I wasn’t the only person to diagnose Clueless: The Musical with an acute case of Not Very Good Music. Because now comes word that a new London production of the show will feature . . . some catchy original music! Or, at the very least, songs written by people who know how to, um, write songs.

The new version, scheduled for February 12-24 in the London borough of Bromley, will have music by the Grammy-nominated Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall and lyrics by the Grammy-winning, Tony-nominated American lyricist Glenn Slater. Heckerling is still responsible for the musical’s book, which, in the production I saw, hewed pretty closely to the film.

I don’t know the previous work of Tunstall and Slater, so I don’t know how fortuitous this collaboration is likely to be, but the odds favor its being an improvement on the off-Broadway version. (The bar is low.)

Tickets are already on sale, but I’m unlikely to make it to Bromley in February, possibly the grayest, least pleasant month in which to visit England’s green and pleasant land. If you see the show, let me know what you think.

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