MANHATTAN (PIX11) — Award-winning writer and director Cameron Crowe knew “Almost Famous” was the most personal thing he had written. The beloved movie and now musical is based on Crowe’s life and is a poignant coming-of-age film set in 1973.
“Weirdly, after making movies with Tom Cruise and Matt Damon, people always wanted to talk about the little film about love, music and family,” Crowe told PIX11 News.
The play follows William Miller, 15, an idealistic kid and mega-music fan. Inspired by the love of those 70s bands, William lands a job at Rolling Stone, writing about a band called Stillwater. Despite his mother’s objections he heads out on tour with the band, a journey that takes the teenager through life changing lessons of love, heartbreak and family.
Crowe said, “I barely thought he would get an article in Rolling Stone, much less a movie as a director, so this is a dream beyond a dream.”
It was his mom Alice Crowe’s dream, and ultimately, as a Sondheim fan, it was a dream beyond expectations, Crowe said. She watched a work tape from a rehearsal with a sparkle in her eye, but passed away two days before the show opened in San Diego at the Old Globe.
But, Crowe said, she is right there every night, and she is on stage in the form of Anika Larsen, who plays Elaine Miller and is so proud and honored to be trusted with that role.
Casey Likes hails from Arizona and is making his Broadway debut in the role of William Miller. He said being Cameron’s alter ego on stage is a lifetime privilege.
Oh, and you remember the line, “don’t take drugs“ from the movie.
Likes said “it is in there quite a few times and it is a reminder to all of us to listen to our mothers.”
Chris Wood plays Stillwater lead guitarist Russell Hammond and said he did his homework and digested a lot about rockstars of the time and tried to figure out what made them tick.
William’s mentor, rock journalist, “Lester Bangs,” helps thread the story together throughout the show.
Rob Colletti, who plays Bangs, said they really brought out the elements of the real Lester Bangs that are a little bit more eccentric and use them to fuel William on his journey to becoming a rock journalist.
And, of course, with the help of ”Penny Lane,” who is not a groupie but a “band-aid,“ William is drawn into the band’s inner circle. Actress Kate Hudson got an Oscar nomination for that role, and Solea Pfeiffer plays the part on stage.
As for the other star, the music, and its impact, Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant gave Crowe the music. He also gave him this story.
Crowe tells us, “I went to the theater with my son the other day, it was a rainy day here in England, and they were showing ‘Almost Famous’ in a revival house and I’m sorry we were the only ones there, we sat in the back and when it was over, I was crying, and my son said to me why are you crying, and I said because it is over. He meant that feeling, but it is not over and i think even he knows it, and we have it here in the Theater.”
A total of 15 actors are making their Broadway debut in this musical.
“Almost Famous” opens Nov. 3, at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre. For more information https://almostfamousthemusical.com/