Music journalist Cameron Crowe became an Academy Award winner for his “Almost Famous” screenplay. Now, with the musical adaptation of the 2000 film open on Broadway, he’s adding musical book writer and, most notably, lyricist to his resume.
In the latest episode of “The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal,” Crowe sits down with Paul Wontorek to discuss bringing the hit film to the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre and what has inspired — and frightened — him along the way.
The film’s enduring appeal played a significant part in bringing the show to Broadway. Crowe said that those who continue to watch the film in the more than two decades since its release are, more often than not, music lovers.
“It’s natural that we can create an atmosphere that’s filled with music, where you kind of feel the elixir when you walk in,” said Crowe, “and the musical can make you feel the way the movie hopefully made you feel.”
The musical showcases a smattering of established hits, but boasts an original score with music by Tom Kitt and lyrics by Crowe. Crowe coveted the challenge of creating something new and not making “Almost Famous” a jukebox musical. He said the new music honors the 1970s time period while looking forward and back “so it wasn’t such a kind of nostalgia explosion.”
For both Crowe and Kitt, it’s been a dream come true.
“We’ve had such a great experience writing lyrics, but also just kind of channeling the feeling of the day — that little time before everything got super mainstreamed,” Crowe said.
Crowe recalled how Joni Mitchell allowed him to use her hit song “River” as one of the few well-known pop and rock songs in the film — and now again in the musical. Mitchell attended a performance of “Almost Famous” during its world premiere at The Old Globe in San Diego, and Crowe recalled feeling terrified.
After the performance, to his delight, Mitchell quipped, “It’s better than the movie.”
Check out Crowe’s full conversation with Wontorek in this week’s episode of “The Broadway Show,” which also includes an interview with Lena Hall, currently starring in the Off-Broadway production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” Viewers can also catch up with Annette Bening ahead of her one-night-only reading of the new play, “Griswold,” about a woman who engineered her own arrest, which resulted in a landmark Supreme Court case for sexual and reproductive privacy. The reading will benefit Broadway’s A Is For and The Pink House Fund. Finally, tune in to “The Broadway Show” for a look at the queens headlining the national tour of “Six.”
“The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal” airs on weekends. Check your local listings for air time and channel.