When I got invited to attend the press conference for the new “First Wives Club Musical,” I immediately replied yes! Yes yes yes! Hell yes! What a great idea, creating a Broadway musical based on an outrageously funny, entertaining and sweet, memorable movie.
I first saw First Wives Club (1996), starring Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, and Diane Keaton, while on a plane. I can’t remember where I was going, but I was young and single then, and even though the movie was about 3 middle-aged women who husbands all left them for a younger woman, I thought it was heartwarming and really, really funny.
I couldn’t have known back then that a decade later, I would end up a first wife, myself, and eight years after that, start Divorced Girl Smiling!
I have probably seen First Wives Club 50 times. If I’m channel surfing and it’s on, I almost always watch it, and every time I do, I giggle and laugh and smile and cry happy tears. Being older and divorced makes me appreciate the story in a more meaningful light.
The First Wives Club Musical, which is premiering at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre on February 17th is going to be absolutely spectacular from what I saw at the press conference.
After introductions from two of the shows producers, Paul Lambert and Elizabeth Williams (we’re talking major producers here-more on them in a minute), as well as director, Simon Phillips (also amazing), the cast performed one of the numbers (which are mostly Motown hits). I got chills! The three stars, Faith Prince (Brenda), Christine Sherrill (Elise) and Carmen Cusack (Annie) then gave introductions that were simply adorable.
Following the press conference, I got to sit down with Lambert and Williams for interviews! Here are the questions I asked them and what they had to say.
JP: What can people coming to the show expect?
EW: They’re going to have a great time at the theatre and see superb sets, beautiful costumes, and amazing choreography and music. This is a show that tells a memorable story about the friendships of three smart, confident women who become even more confident, and in the end, transcend what they’ve been though. It’s about women being there for each other during tough times.
(by the way, Elizabeth is a multi-Tony and Olivier Award winning producer, who has produced or co-produced more than 80 productions on Broadway in London, the U.S., the UK and Australia. She also co-produced Les Miserables! Does that give you any idea of what league this show is in?!)
JP: How will the musical differ from the movie?
PL: We go more into the emotional aspect of the story, and let music connect those emotions to what the audience will relate to. The overall theme of, “That was me then, this is me now” is something that resonates with all of us, no matter what we go through and the circumstances that might paralyze us. And when you build a show on a theme that resonates with people, and add great music, dance, and comedy, it becomes a truly meaningful experience.
JP: Is there a message this show is sending to women?
PL: When you’re going through challenges, you reach out to your girlfriends as this support system that allows you to get out of that paralysis and realize that you are really OK, and that you shouldn’t let those circumstances redefine you. Sometimes it takes a friend’s honesty and encouragement to make you realize, “I’m a healthy person that just took a left turn.”
I love the phrase, “I’m not what I want to be, but thank God I’m not what I used to be.” It’s a line that talks about personal growth and that’s what happens to these women in our show. They grow united as a threesome.
People are going to leave thinking about “the me I was meant to be, and the me I want to be.” Hopefully, the show gives them inspiration and encouragement to find that me.
EW: Essentially, don’t give up. This is about the biggest club no one really wants to belong to, but let’s help each other and have a huge celebration while we’re doing that.
I seriously cannot wait to see First Wives Club Musical! I think it’s the perfect girl’s night out, or a great thing to do with your mom, sister or best girlfriend. Whether you are a first wife, a happily married wife, or a single woman, I think anyone over 30 is going to LOVE this show.
First Wives Club opens on Tuesday, February 17th at he Oriental Theatre in downtown Chicago, with performances on Tuesdays-Sundays. Tickets are available at all Broadway in Chicago Box offices, by calling (800) 775-2000, or at www.BroadwayInChicago.com