Transforming the 1985 action comedy Back to the Future into a Broadway musical complete with song-and-dance numbers and Hollywood-level effects sounds like a heavy proposition. But the creative team behind Back to the Future: The Musical is walking on air as the show opens at New York’s famed Winter Garden Theatre — the home of blockbuster hits like Cats and Mamma Mia! — after a nearly two-decade journey to the beating heart of America’s theater scene.
According to Back to the Future screenwriter Bob Gale, the initial “Great Scott!” moment happened in 2005 when the movie’s director, Robert Zemeckis, visited Broadway to watch Mel Brooks’s musical version of The Producers with his wife, Leslie Harter. “Afterwards, Leslie said to Bob: ‘Did you guys ever think about turning Back to the Future into a musical?'” Gale tells Yahoo Entertainment. “Bob said, ‘No, but that’s an interesting idea.'”
Zemeckis brought his wife’s pitch to Gale and the duo — who have famously resisted making another Back to the Future sequel or reboot — decided that there was something there. They also knew that they’d be the ones in the driver’s seat as Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean made its way from the big screen to the stage.
“There was no way it was going to be anyone else,” says Gale, who penned the book for the musical, while Zemeckis served as a creative consultant and Back to the Future composer Alan Silvestri wrote the music and lyrics with Grammy-winning songwriter and producer Glen Ballard. “Early on, we met with producers who would say, ‘Just turn this over to us, and we’ll do everything right.’ But our feeling always was that if the show sucks, we want it to be our fault!”