If the Who, Elton John and Abba can be glorified on the theater stage, Gene Simmons sees no reason why he and Kiss can’t get a piece of those Broadway bucks. He plans to work with some of the top names in musical theater to put together a musical about Kiss.
Next week, the Kiss bassist will meet with “Beauty and the Beast” director Rob Roth and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” co-writer Stephen Trask about creating a story for the musical. At this point Simmons is unsure whether Kiss will pen new songs for the project, whether someone else will write show tunes, or whether the musical will include actual Kiss songs.
One thing he does know is that neither himself nor vocalist and rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley (who has musical theater experience) will be in the production. And don’t count on seeing “Jekyll & Hyde” and “Rocky Horror Show” vet Sebastian Bach either.
“We’re going to take four young guys who just finished being embryos, who are entering their early 20s. It’s all about this wild-eyed innocence,” Simmons said. “To me, the most interesting thing about ‘Peter Pan’ is not when the kids go to Never Never Land and meet the pirates, it’s when they’re in their bedrooms and Peter Pan first comes in and they’re learning how to fly. That’s the most wondrous moment. After that, you sort of know where you’re going.”
Simmons said the production will feature actors dressed as Kiss and will be partially biographical, but he stressed that the show won’t be a chronological history of the band. Instead, he hopes to capture the essence and spirit of rock and roll.
” ‘Mamma Mia!’ has the right spirit. It’s not really about Abba, it’s more about the music and what it does to people,” he said. “Clearly, some of this will be biographical, but we’d like to concentrate more on the magic and what it all means. When you really think of it, ‘The Music Man’ is less about this guy who comes into town and starts playing music, and more on the effect it had around him. That’s what we’re striving for.”
In addition to the Kiss musical, Simmons is working on a wide variety of other entrepreneurial projects, including two MTV programs (the horror-suspense serial “Gene Simmons’ Chill-O-Rama” and the full-length film “Groupies”), Kiss condoms, a Kiss Kasino, Kiss cruises, an animated Kiss superhero TV show, another series (also animated) titled “My Dad the Rock Star,” a clothing line, book and record companies, and a magazine called (what else?) Gene Simmons’ Tongue.
“It’s gonna be a bizarre magazine that will combine all my favorite things about Rolling Stone, Playboy, Vanity Fair and Maxim,” he said. “Every month, the great-looking girl on the cover is going to have to stick her tongue out. Or if it’s Michael Jordan surrounded by great- looking girls, his tongue has got to be out.
“It’s not all about eroticism,” he continued, “it’s just having a fun point of view about life. And inside there’ll be columns like ‘Tongue in Cheek,’ which is about who’s doing who. Anything that’s happening overseas is called ‘Foreign Tongue.’ The letter column is gonna be called ‘Tongue Lashings,’ and on and on.”
In other words, the end of the Kiss empire is nowhere in sight.