Leader of the Pack (musical)

Leader of the Pack is a musical with liner notes by Anne Beatts and additional material by Jack Heifner, music by Ellie Greenwich, and lyrics by Greenwich, Jeff Barry, Phil Spector, George "Shadow" Morton, Jeff Kent, and Ellen Foley.

Based on an original concept by Melanie Mintzwith, this jukebox musical (created before the term was coined) celebrates the life and times of the Brooklyn-born Greenwich, whose doo-wop sounds skyrocketed to the top of the pop charts in the early to mid-1960s. Beatts' "liner notes" serve as the book that link the songs and provide a look into the songwriter's professional triumphs and personal misfortunes.

The initial presentation of Leader of the Pack: The Songs of Ellie Greenwich (as it originally was titled), with a cast of six, had a brief run at Greenwich Village's Bottom Line in the winter of 1984. After 53 previews, the much-expanded production, boasting a cast of nineteen directed and choreographed by Michael Peters, opened on April 8 1985 at the Ambassador Theatre, where it ran for 120 performances. The cast included Dinah Manoff, Patrick Cassidy, and Jasmine Guy, with Annie Golden and Darlene Love portraying themselves. Greenwich appeared as her contemporary self in the finale.

The production was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical but lost to Big River. A 2-LP original cast recording was released by Elektra Records. Frank Rich, reviewing the show in the New York Times, called it an "embarrassment" and later wrote that upon closing, the show's producers engaged each other in litigation that "entertained Broadway for far longer than their show had."

Leader of the Pack is a popular choice for high school productions.


As a teenage member of the Jivettes during the late 1950s, Ellie dreams of hearing her songs played on the radio, but her plans are put on the back burner by a mother who insists she finish high school and pursue a degree in education so she'll have a means of supporting herself. While attending Queens College, she finds work in the music industry's temple, Manhattan's Brill Building, where she meets Gus Sharkey (a thinly-veiled caricature of Phil Spector) and fellow aspiring songwriter Jeff Barry. After a whirlwind courtship, the two wed and begin to churn out hits for the Ronettes, the Crystals, the Shangri-Las, Darlene Love, Connie Francis, and Lesley Gore, among others. In 1965, at the pinnacle of their partnership, Jeff wants to start a family, whereas Ellie would rather keep working than settle down as a housewife/mother, so he divorces her. They remain professional partners for another year, but when her ex-husband remarries, Ellie falls into a downward spiral of depression and eventually suffers a nervous breakdown. The show then fast-forwards to the mid-1980s, showing off a self-confident and successful Ellie who is in control of her life.

Song list

Act I

  • Be My Baby
  • Wait 'til My Bobby Gets Home
  • A . . . My Name Is Ellie
  • Jivette Boogie Beat
  • Why Do Lovers Break Each Other's Hearts
  • Today I Met the Boy I'm Gonna Marry
  • I Wanna Love Him So Bad
  • Do Wah Diddy
  • And Then He Kissed Me
  • Hanky Panky
  • Not Too Young To Get Married
  • Chapel Of Love
  • The Songwriter's Medley
Act II

  • Baby I Love You
  • Leader of the Pack
  • Look of Love
  • Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
  • I Can Hear Music
  • Rock of Rages
  • Keep It Confidential
  • Da Doo Ron Ron
  • What a Guy
  • Maybe I Know
  • River Deep, Mountain High
  • We're Gonna Make It After All

External links

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