A grunge jukebox musical is coming and its writer knows what you're thinking

The unnamed production is looking to include songs by the some of biggest acts of the era

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published July 7, 2017 4:28PM (EDT)

 (<a href='https://www.shutterstock.com/g/Namphon2U'>Namphon2U</a> via <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/'>Shutterstock</a>)
(Namphon2U via Shutterstock)

The Seattle Repertory Theatre has commissioned a musical that will be set in Washington's biggest city in the early 1990s, according to a report by Variety. Like all great jukebox musicals, it may incorporate some of the most iconic songs from the genre and era — though which if (any) specific songs from bands such as Alice in Chains, Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden and other acts actually show up in the production remains undetermined.

As well as the final script hasn't been written, it not yet clear which songs will actually be used in the show. Even the title remains undecided for the present moment.

The play was conceived by the artistic director of the O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference, Wendy C. Goldberg, and was co-created with playwright Matt Schatz. The musical has the support of former Nirvana manager Janet Billig Rich, who is currently from Manage This Media, and BMG executive Elyse Cogan.

Goldberg will direct while Schatz writes the musical's book.

For his part, Schatz seems fully and laudably aware of the tricky territory he's driving into. "The conflict of art versus commerce and commercial success versus authenticity is among the things that we think the show will be examining," he told Salon. "As a musical theater writer, one of the things I try to do is push the boundaries of how musicals can sound and what they can be about. The challenge of finding a tone that illuminates the grunge aesthetic is one of the things that excites me most about this project."

He noted that "I’m also a songwriter, so it’s possible that I’ll be writing original songs for the show as well that can address this and other ideas more explicitly."

Finally, Schatz pointed out that "I actually find a lot of wit and humor in much of the music from that era. At its best it didn’t take itself too seriously. So I’m hoping to lean into that as well."

While the very idea of a "grunge musical" seem may counterintuitive to the legions of Gen-X fans that praised it (perhaps falsely) for its loosely held anti-commercial stance ("Nevermind" sold over 10.6 million copies in the U.S. after all), it seems that the creative forces behind it are not only aware of this, they're up for the challenge.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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90s Alice In Chains Entertainment Grunge Music Musicals Nirvana Partner Video Seattle Smashing Pumpkins Soundgarden