5 Questions with David Yazbek about Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

5 Questions with David Yazbek about Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

MTI is releasing an all-new revised version of David Yazbek and Jeffery Lane's (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. We sat down with Yazbek to discuss the changes to the show which were made for the smash-hit West End production.

Q: What inspired you and the other authors to revisit Women on the Verge after the original Broadway production?

DY: Jeffrey Lane and I felt that the staging of the original production, which was kinetic, colorful but overly busy, made it hard to follow the story of our main character and the character surrounding her. When the show ended its initial run, we got to work fixing this problem. Later, we had a chance to do some intense work with a wonderful new cast and the result was the great London production that we are so proud of. 

Q: What are the most significant changes to the show?

DY: The heart of the show is always clearly in evidence in this new production and the story thread is always very clear. This is a hilarious and moving comedy about women (and a couple of men) in crisis and you need to be able to clearly follow the story threads to enjoy the songs and the scenes. By making the production simpler and by doing some major rewriting we achieved that. 

Another big difference is that I cut the orchestra down to more of a combo. Now, the show is very rhythm-driven and the songs aren't in danger of getting lost in the orchestrations. It's also made it much easier for regional and college productions to take place.

Also, I replaced two of the songs with what I think are much better numbers, especially the new Finale, "The View From Here", which wraps up the show with genuine warmth and humor.

Q: When the revised show had its London run how did the response differ?

DY: The Broadway production quickly found what I would call a "cult" audience of people who loved the score and characters. The London audiences and critics were very enthusiastic about every aspect of the show. The applause was always so immediate in London, like they couldn't wait to thank these characters. It made me very happy.

Q: What drew you to the source material (Pedro Almodóvar's award-winning film)?

DY: I've always loved Almodóvar's films and this seemed like the most adaptable. I wanted to live in his world and bring it back to life on the stage. I also wanted the challenge of writing primarily for female characters. I learned a lot. 

Q: Why is this perfect show for our customers?

DY: It's funny, very moving, incredibly timely, and has many layers of meaning. It is the best score I've written and very playable, especially by musicians who want to groove. Mostly, it is a show that creative, imaginative directors and collaborators can have great fun with. And I've never seen a cast have so much fun as the London cast had on the latest production. That kind of fun spills off the stage and into the audience and before you know it, you have a love-fest.

David YazbekA varied career as a recording artist, Emmy-winning TV and film writer, music producer and pianist has somehow led David Yazbek to a career on Broadway. His three shows, The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown were all Tony-nominated for Best Score. The Full Monty won him the Drama Desk Award for Best Music. As a recording artist, Yazbek is responsible for five albums: The Laughing Man (winner NAIRD award, Best Pop Album of the Year),Tock, Damascus, Tape Recorder and Evil Monkey Man. He also produced the original cast albums of his three Broadway shows, The Full MontyDirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, the first two of which were nominated for Grammy Awards. Recently David has scored the final season of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire", scored and performed the music for Larry David's giant Broadway hit Fish in the Dark, and built an Ikea storage shelf.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous BreakdownGazpacho, anyone? A musical adaptation of Pedro Almodóvar's beloved film of the same name, Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown is the brainchild of the talented team behind Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Preserving the unusual and exhilarating tone and style of the Oscar-nominated film, Women On The Verge will delight both fans of the film and newcomers to the raucous tale.

Both touching and hilarious, Women On The Verge is a story about women and the men who pursue them... finding them, losing them, needing them, and rejecting them. At the center is Pepa whose friends and lovers are blazing a trail through 1980s Madrid. Along with Pepa, there's her missing (possibly philandering) lover, Ivan; his ex-wife of questionable sanity, Lucia; their son Carlos; Pepa's friend, Candela, and her terrorist boyfriend; a power-suited lawyer, and a taxi driver who dispenses tissues, mints and advice in equal proportion. Mayhem and comic madness abound, balanced by the empathy and heart that are trademarks of Almodóvar's work.