A musical biography
chronicling The Righteous Brothers’ life story featuring 18 of their
memorable songs. “Blue-eyed soul” pioneers Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield
topped the charts for decades and galvanized the link between rock and rhythm
& blues. Featuring their greatest hits such as, “Unchained Melody,”
“Old Time Rock and Roll,” and the most played song in radio history “You’ve
Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” this musical is sure to have you tapping your toes
as we learn how these hits were born.
The play opens on the stage of the Miller Auditorium on the campus of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan in November of 2003. The Righteous Brothers ensemble are on stage completing a sound check for their performance later that evening. Hatfield is already back at the Radisson Hotel. The ensemble is in the middle of You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’. The number is interrupted by road manager Dusty Hanvey. The sound engineers are having trouble with the backup tracks and they’ll have to take a break and try the number later. He also reminds Medley of a scheduled interview with a college newspaper reporter. As the group leaves the stage, Ali Hanson, a student journalist at WMU, enters the stage and introduces herself. She and Medley retire to the greenroom area for the interview.
As the interview begins with Ali, a true “Type A” personality, recording their conversation and taking notes, she begins with a question that clearly surprises Medley. He suggests that “…to understand all that happened, you really need to know the whole story.” Ali then retreats asking how it all began. As Medley begin sharing how he and Bobby Hatfield first met and sang together, the scene shifts.
The new scene is of a young Bill and Bobby (circa 1963) considering forming a new group. The two are clearly different personalities, but as the scene progresses, they bond in a common love for R&B music. For fun they improvise their way through a rendition of a number, (“B Flat Blues.”) The bond and the group are formed. Clearly Bobby and Bill have found a bond in their common “lovin’ feeling” for the music.
The scene shifts back to the greenroom interview, with Medley continuing to share the happy beginnings of Bill and Bobby’s relationship and how they got their first big break, which shifts the scene to a performance at the Black Derby nightclub. The group is performing another R&B number, (“My Babe.”) At the conclusion of the number, midst the applause, a Black marine shouts, “Man, that was righteous, brothers!” They take a break, but remain on stage where Ray Maxwell, owner of Moonglow Records, introduces himself and asks the group if they’d like to record for his studio. They agree and, amidst the group’s celebration. The scene shifts back to the Kalamazoo greenroom.
Ali again begins asking questions that clearly indicate she’s looking for something more… the conflict that existed later between Medley and Hatfield. Bill quickly diverts the conversation back to happy memories, and the scene shifts to The Righteous Brothers’ first recording session. They are recording what became the group’s first big hit (“Little Latin Lupe Lu.”) At the conclusion of the number, the group realizes they don’t have a name. Recalling the Black marine’s comment, they decide on “The Righteous Brothers.”
The scene again shifts to the interview, with Medley sharing that, even though the number eventually became a hit, “Little Latin Lupe Lu” initially went nowhere. As Medley and Ali talk, the lighting in the greenroom shifts and the young Bill and Bobby enter. We are now backstage at the Rendezvous Ballroom (1963) before a performance with Patterson’s band.
The conversation is light and filled with laughs, but as they converse we find out that there are 5,000 kids out there and Bobby suffers from severe stage fright. He is at heart a very insecure person, seeking to escape through humor, often inappropriate. We’re also introduced to Karen, a high school friend of Bill. Karen will eventually become Bill’s wife. The backstage conversation ends with Bill and Bobby moving rapidly to the stage and a performance of (“I’m So Lonely.”) The scene and performance concludes with Patterson promoting The Righteous Brothers’ recording. As we return to the Kalamazoo greenroom, we learn that Patterson’s efforts worked. The record becomes a hit and the young Bill and Bobby go on tour. Reverse racism though will become a problem for them.
As the scene again shifts, now to an all Black LA nightclub, the young Bill and Bobby meet the club manager who is surprised that they are White. He tells them that “…from your music we thought you were…Black… and in about an hour there’ll be about 300 Black folks in this hall… and trust me, they’re gonna be pissed!” They’ll have to wait until the end of the evening to go on. When they do, initially greeted with boos, they eventually win over the all Black audience with their performance of (“Georgia On My Mind.”)
Back in the 2003 interview we are introduced to Jerry Perenchio, who will become their manager, and learn that the next phase of The Righteous Brothers’ journey will take them on tour opening for The Beatles’ first American tour. Again, the Kalamazoo greenroom shifts into a dressing room backstage before a Beatles concert, and a heated conversation between the young Bill and Bobby. Bobby’s stage fright is affecting their performances. Bill shares, “…yeah, but, Bobby, you can’t leave me out there twisting in the wind like last night.” The argument is interrupted by Julie Stedham, who works for Perenchio. As she pushes them toward the stage, we learn that The Righteous Brothers are considering leaving the Beatles tour to host a new television program, and as they enter the stage we hear the chants of “We want the Beatles!” Over the noise they begin singing (“Justine,”) cooling the crowd down. During the instrumental break in the number, the scene shifts and the number concludes, now in a television studio in the middle of a taping of Shindig. Following the number the taping stops, but the scene continues. We learn that Bill has been seeing Darlene Love, a Black performer, and that he has begun irritating Bobby with his “control freak” nature, making decisions for the group without consulting Bobby. The balance of the first act concludes as we are introduced to record producer Phil Spector, who leases the remainder of The Righteous Brothers’ contract from Moonglow, and we see the recording session for (“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.”) The act concludes rapidly with an interview session promoting “That Lovin’ Feelin’” where the young Bobby, again due to his nerves, insults the interviewer and, due to Bill’s control issues, threatens to leave The Righteous Brothers saying, “… I’m no groupie …I’m Bobby Hatfield, and the last time I looked we are The Righteous BROTHERS!... No, make that we WERE The Righteous Brothers.” The final scene returns briefly to the Kalamazoo interview where, over the top of the opening to (“What’d I Say,”) Medley, responding to an earlier question responds, “We were great! Just great!”
The act opens picking up immediately following the end of act one. The band is playing the opening to (“What’d I Say,”) and the senior Medley is interrupted by Dusty calling him to the stage to conclude the sound check. Medley arrives in time to begin the vocals, as Ali, frustrated with his evasions, packs up to leave the greenroom. During the number she moves to the stage on her way out, but is stopped by Dusty and eventually Medley. We see, but do not hear, a heated discussion as the number concludes.
Following the number, the band leaves for the hotel with Ali and Medley remaining on stage. Ali tries to excuse herself gracefully, but is eventually pushed to admitting her frustration, and the two conclude a heated discussion. Medley decides to tell her the truth. While his answers to her in the first act have been a historic white wash, from here on he will tell her the unvarnished truth.
In subsequent scenes we see Phil Spector’s true impact on Bill and Bobby, and the relationship between Bobby and Bill steadily deteriorate, as Bill’s controlling nature and Bobby’s deprecating “put down” humor steadily chip away at their relationship. Spector sets the two up to work with songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil on “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration”, but Bobby blows up at Spector and Medley over being asked to speak (not sing) the bridge of the number. Spector then pulls the duo off the project to work with Carole King. But Bobby again offends an audience with his stage fright driven comments during a performance of (“Let The Good Times Roll.”) At the same time Spector tries to entice first Bill and then Bobby to sign with him to produce solos. As a result of trying to control Spector and Hatfield, Bill’s voice and then his nerves become an issue in Las Vegas and, following a Vegas performance of (“Dr. Rock and Roll,”) Frank Sinatra ends up helping the duo. Though in spite of the help, Bill suffers a nervous breakdown and is hospitalized.
Spector, despite protestations by Jerry Perenchio and Bill, continues to undermine the duo with pressure to record solo numbers, succeeding with a now totally frustrated Bobby producing first (“Unchained Melody,”) and then (“Ebb Tide.”) Finally, when Joy Hatfield, Bobby’s wife, calls Bill “…a babbling idiot,” Bill decides to break up saying, “I didn’t want Darrin (his son) growing up hearing that his dad was a “babbling idiot.” We see their last show, six months after the decision, on New Year’s Eve 1968 where they perform (“Koko Joe”) and (“Auld Lang Syne.”)
The breakup hurts both their careers, with Bobby failing with multiple new partners and finally deteriorating into alcohol and drugs and destroying his health and his marriage to Joy. While Bill attempting a solo career does further damage to his voice. Finally, David Cohen, a personal friend and new manager for Bill, encourages Bill to go back to Bobby saying, “…go back to The Righteous Brothers…Go back with Bobby, and try and make enough money so possibly you can retire...Before you can’t sing at all.” They reunite to record (“Rock and Roll Heaven.”) On tour Hatfield returns to his embarrassing onstage antics during a performance of (“You’re My Soul and Inspiration,”) and Medley’s had enough. Before they can separate a second time, however, Karen, Bill’s ex-wife and mother of their child Darren, is raped and murdered. Bill must now leave the duo to take care of his child. In a heated argument Hatfield challenges the decision, with Medley storming off with, “Look, I can either raise Darrin or I can raise you!”
The separation again destroys Hatfield, leaving him frail and defeated for years, and Medley retired as a single father. But the Righteous Brothers are not through yet. A final partnering begins when the two are asked to reunite for a twenty-five year reunion concert where they perform (“Old Time Rock and Roll”) and (“Dream On.”) This, combined with The Righteous Brothers’ music used in the popular films Dirty Dancing, Top Gun, and finally Ghost creates insatiable demand, forcing a final long-term connection between the two estranged partners. This time though it was going to be different, and in a meeting the two agree to terms that lay the groundwork for their final decade long partnership as The Righteous Brothers.
The greenroom conversation concludes with a clearly unburdened Bill Medley and a grateful Ali. The two have warmed to each other throughout the second act and now part friends, with Ali deciding to not write the article to keep Bill’s comments private. Bill has admitted to sharing things with her that he hasn’t shared with anybody – “…not even Bobby.” Ali’s final exit line being “Maybe you should.”
But the drama isn’t finished. Just as Ali exits Dusty and the band return from the Radisson, telling Bill that his partner of forty years has been found dead in his hotel room. Bill is crushed, but sings, first a cappella and then with the rest joining in, a reprise of (“Rock and Roll Heaven”) as a final tribute to Bobby, who, through Bill’s reflections, returns to the stage a final time for one last number.
A nostalgic blast to the past; a must see!
–Pat Taylor, The Tolucan
Dusty Hanvey - Road manager for The Righteous Brothers during the later years
Tim Lee -Pianist for The Righteous Brothers' band during their later years
Bill Medley - At age 63, member of The Righteous Brothers (circa 2003)
Lucinda Chatfield -Female singer with The Righteous Brothers (circa 2003)
Ali Hanson -A college journalism student at Western Michigan University
Bill Medley - Member of The Righteous Brothers (as a young man)
Bobby Hatfield - Member of The Righteous Brothers (as a young man)
John Wimber - Friend of Bill Medley and pianist in The Righteous Brothers’ band during the early years
Ray Maxwell - Owner of Moonglow Records. Recorded the early Righteous Brothers
Mike Patterson - Friend of The Righteous Brothers, also pianist for them later in career
PAUL JACKSON - The 1960s African American club manager for the California Club (heard as a Voice-over SFX)
Julie Stedhan - Booking manager for The Righteous Brothers
Cher - Backup singer for Phil Spector and The Righteous Brothers
Jerry Perenchio - Manager for The Righteous Brothers
Donna Thomas - Journalist interviewing The Righteous Brothers
Phil Spector - Record producer recording The Righteous Brothers
Barry Mann - Songwriter
Cynthia Weil - Songwriter
David Cohen - Longtime friend of Bill Medley, business manager for Bill Medley, and manager for The Righteous Brothers later in their career
Frank Sinatra - Vegas performer and friend of The Righteous Brothers
Kalamazoo Stage Manager
Karen Medley - Wife of Bill Medley
Joy (Ciro) Hatfield - Wife of Bobby Hatfield
Bill Medley’s Doctor
Suggested Casting Assignments:
Actor #1 - Phil Spector, David Cohen, Frank Sinatra
Actor #2 - Ray Maxwell, Jerry Perenchio, Kalamazoo Stage Manager, a Doctor
Actor #3 - Bill Medley (age 63)
Actor #4 - Bill Medley (as a young man)
Actor #5 - Bobby Hatfield
Actress/Singer #1 (Soprano) - Lucinda Chatfield, Julie Stedham, Karen Medley
Actress/Singer #2 (Mezzo) - Cher, Donna Thomas, Cynthia Weil, Joy (Ciro) Hatfield
Actress #3 - Ali
Pianist - Also performs various pianists who played with The Righteous Brothers throughout their career (Tim Lee, John Wimber, Mike Patterson)
Guitar - Also performs the role of Dusty Hanvey.
Keyboard (on selected numbers) - Performed by Actress #1 and Actor #1
Setting: The story takes place on (and backstage) at the Miller Auditorium, Western Michigan University, and various locations at which The Righteous Brothers performed.
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Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement. To download the show rider for That Lovin’ Feelin’ click here.
Materials: your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date and will include everything necessary for your production and can be ordered in Printed or Digital format. Printed Materials are provided on unbound three-hole punched loose-leaf paper while digital Materials are provided via email as downloadable PDF files for you to print in-house. All materials are yours to keep! No deposits, no returns.
The required materials for That Lovin’ Feelin’ include:
Production Scripts, Piano/Conductor Score, Vocal Scores
Orchestrations: Piano, Keyboard, Guitar, Bass, Drums
Print Edition – Beautifully bound scripts available at wholesale costs to sell in your lobby!
Director's Script – Single-sided script with space for director’s notes.
Logo/PR Pack – Includes high-resolution artwork, ready-designed posters, and reference photos.