Broadway Revs Its Engines for a New Leader of the Pack—and a Newfound Friend: MTV
It isn't like the song says: She doesn't meet him at the candy store. Instead, they meet at the corner of 54th and Broadway. The chrome glistens, the motors rev, and the rubber rips, as 106 Harley-Davidsons roar down Broadway. On this Sunday morning in February, the Great White Way becomes chopper heaven and the biggest momma of them all is a platinum blonde in a scarlet sidecar. She is songwriter Ellie Greenwich, and for fans of 1960's girl groups she will always be the Leader of the Pack.
Greenwich's cavalcade marks an unlikely collaboration: Broadway greets MTV. This cycle circus will be the lead scene in a $300,000 video created to hype a Broadway musical based on Greenwich's life as a songwriter and singer. Called, naturally, Leader of the Pack, the show opens in March, and it features such Greenwich classics as Then He Kissed Me, River Deep—Mountain High and Chapel of Love. MTV has already aired the Cats video, but Leader's is the first done before opening night.
Director-choreographer Michael Peters originated the idea of filming a video to promote Leader. "I really want to attract a younger audience with this musical," he says. Handling the horde in 19ºF weather didn't faze Peters; after all he used real gangs in his acclaimed Beat It.
The pack was led by Patrick Cassidy, who plays Ellie's collaborator-husband in the show. Although costumed in head-to-toe leather, Cassidy forgot one essential for the cold day of filming: long underwear. "I feel like Marlon Brando in The Wild One," he said before the bikers thundered past the Brill Building, where Greenwich got her start as a songwriter. The scene brought back memories for Greenwich. "My husband had one of these cycles, so I'm used to riding on them." Now she's hoping for a long da-doo run run on Broadway.
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