Pop music in Broadway shows isn’t new. But ever since Mamma Mia! first premiered in 2001, a musical solely featuring the toe-tapping music of pop group ABBA, theater goers like me have had a chance to enjoy many more musicals that incorporate pre-existing pop favorites into their storylines.
These Broadway shows allow us to hear beloved tunes in a brand-new way. Sometimes, you even get to learn the story behind some of your favorite songs. That’s the case with the handful of recent musicals that use celebrated songbooks to tell the life stories of the artists that made them famous.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from them, but the “songbook” musicals that were part of the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series were by far my favorite shows of the 2021-2022 season. I figured I would enjoy musicals like Summer – The Donna Summer Musical and Beautiful – The Carole King Musical based on the song lists – but I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy learning the artist’s life stories and amazing performances of beloved songs.
Beautiful, for example, told the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom. I learned how she met her husband and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin, formed a friendship with fellow writers Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, and became one of the most successful solo acts in pop music history.
After seeing Beautiful last weekend, I’m already counting down to May when I can return to the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts to see Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations. The electrifying, new smash-hit follows The Temptations’ extraordinary journey from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It is set to the beat of the group’s treasured hits, including “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination,” “Get Ready,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and so many more.
If you’re a fan of classic Motown tunes like me, Ain’t Too Proud is one musical you do not want to miss! The show will run from Tuesday, May 17, to Sunday, May 22. Click here to purchase your tickets.
Whether you’re headed downtown for Ain’t Too Proud or another upcoming show at the Benedum Center and Byham Theater, I suggest you visit the Box Office at Theater Square, located at 655 Penn Avenue, for entry pre-check. You will receive a wristband after staff have verified all necessary vaccination credentials that not only allows you access to the expedited entry line at the theater but also enables you to redeem special discounts at participating restaurants before the show.
I’ll be using the entry pre-check the rest of this season and next season if the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust continues with the same Entry Requirements. Speaking of next season, I’m looking forward to the upcoming announcement of the 2022-2023 PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh lineup!
Disclaimer: I was provided press passes for Beautiful – The Carole King Musical and all opinions shared here are my own.