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‘First Wives Club’ might just be Broadway’s first hybrid musical

With four or five hit songs plucked from their Motown past combined with 16 or 17 new songs penned specially for “First Wives Club,” their first Broadway musical, the fabled team of Holland-Dozier-Holland might just end up being credited as the creators of the first show that is “part jukebox musical and part original musical.”

That was among the many things the team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland   (whose credits include such songs as “Stop in the Name of Love,” “Baby Love,” “Reach Out I’ll Be There” and countless others) revealed Tuesday afternoon during a little press conference at the Broadway Playhouse. And as they talked about the show that has brought them back together after years of separation, they confessed they had much to learn about the patience required for making it through the long gestation period involved in any new musical.

“It can be frustrating, because you can write a really good song, but then you are told something has changed, so the song is out,” confessed lyricist Eddie Holland. “But about two years into the process we started to adjust.” (And who knows — the jettisoned songs might just be the material for an album beyond any original cast album.)

Eddie Holland also quipped that during Motown days he was the primary lyricist among the three — a role in which he often had to defer to the composers who set the crucial rhythm and melody of the songs. But in a Broadway show he has more of an equal say because the lyrics are crucial to moving the story along.

(L to R) Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, discuss "First Wives Club." | Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

(L to R) Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, discuss “First Wives Club.” | Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

All three men said they love Broadway musicals, and were unanimous in naming Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady” as their favorite, with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma” and “South Pacific” close contenders. As for contemporary music, they are fans of Rihanna (especially her “Umbrella” album), Brianna Taylor, Beyonce and Usher.

“Too may pop stars sound alike these days,” said Dozier, who penned an earlier musical  on his own (“Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money,” which debuted at the Chicago Children’s Theater in January, 2014). “I like to know who’s singing.”

Based on the 1996 movie that starred Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn an Diane Keaton, the musical version of “First Wives Club” features a book by Linda Bloodworth Thomason (“Designing Women”) and direction by Simon Phillips, and will star Faith Prince, Carmen Cusack and Chicago diva Christine Sherrill. It is set to begin previews Feb. 17 at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W.Randolph, with opening night set for March 11 and a run scheduled  to go through March 29.

For tickets (group sales only, with single tickets going on sale at a later date), call (312) 977-1710 or visit http://www.BroadwayInChicago.com.