Although evident for decades in a small number of Hollywood films, the so-called Jukebox Musical is only a relatively recent theatrical genre.
Jukebox Musicals are called so because they centre around an already existing catalogue of well-known published songs.
They have been heavily criticised for lacking substance with thin plots and flaky characters, where scenes have either been written around a single song, or the reverse, where songs have been ‘dumped’ carelessly into the storyline. Broadway producers usually tread cautiously with shows of this genre, as flops are common.
But when a hit arrives, it can run for years. Two of the most successful Jukebox Musicals are Mamma Mia! (using the songs of 70s Swedish pop group ABBA) and Jersey Boys (the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons), both runaway successes playing to millions of people on stages around the world.