It was a surprise when Jon Favreau, comic actor and director of indie films, was selected to direct the big action movie “Iron Man.” It’s just as much a surprise to hear from Variety that he’s in the running to direct a musical–a big screen adaptation of the long-running musical “Jersey Boys.”
The play opened on Broadway in 2005, another jukebox musical in a string that had opened after the success of “Mamma Mia.” They all flopped, except “Jersey Boys,” which surprised everyone by not only winning over audiences and also critics. Rather than construct a fake story around a catalogue of songs, the play opted instead to tell the gritty story of 1960s band Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, which was formed by a group of boys growing up on the tough streets of New Jersey. They fight, they have brushes with the mob, they break up and reunite, and they write and perform some of the big hit songs of the era, such as “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll,” “Oh What a Night” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.”
Like I said, you don’t think “Jon Favreau and musicals,” but it’s a show that requires a director who can bring a kind of toughness rather than someone who’s a top hand at staging showy production numbers, especially since the musical element relies more on performances of songs than people randomly bursting into songs and dances to express their inner monologues. With that in mind, I’d be okay with Favreau (I’m sure he’s thrilled to hear he meets my approval).
This would be Favreau’s first directing gig since “Cowboys & Aliens” last year. However, as an actor he’ll be seen in this month’s “People Like Us,” is filming some bits for “Iron Man 3″ in his role as Happy Hogan, and then is doing “Identity Thief” with Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy.