Jean’s response was short and sweet:
I have received so many letters over the last three years, from people who have ideas for all kinds of projects. Sometimes I just don't answer because the time it would take to write a letter that would politely decline the offer while not discouraging their creative energy is just more than I can spare. But I do try. However, in reading your letter, I felt something. I've had people ask about doing an ABBA-type show before, and I love the idea, but have always passed. Perhaps it was the way you express yourself, maybe it's because today is the 3rd anniversary of Dan's passing, but I feel like I would like to hear more. I warn you, I'm a tough sell - it has to be classy and something I feel Dan would approve of - but I'd like to at least hear more about the storyline. How would you be most comfortable doing this?
Not only were we thrilled, but the idea that I had sent the e-mail the day that I did, without realizing the import, was unbelievable. Our gut instincts told us that we had one shot only to present our idea to Jean. So when she suggested we meet over Skype, we resisted. We knew we had to present in person, so Jean could see and feel the full impact of what we wanted to accomplish. We would fly ANYWHERE, we told her.
After several e-mails back and forth, Jean said, “I’ll be in Nashville in February, do you want to meet me there?” You bet we would! Richard, Karen and I booked our tickets and began to gather what we needed for a full-on presentation!
We went to Victor Vanacore’s studio, where we took video of him arranging six of Dan’s songs on the fly. We played Victor Dan’s version of BELIEVE IN ME, and explained to him that our 16 year-old ingenue would first sing this song to her newborn baby boy before she had to turn him over to be adopted. Victor turned BELIEVE IN ME into a lullaby before our eyes.
Karen had the brilliant idea of putting together a mock PLAYBILL to show the WHO’s WHO on the team, as well as the MUSICAL NUMBERS, CHARACTERS & SETTINGS, and all the usual items one finds in a Playbill at the theatre. We had a great time working on the design...
A week before we were scheduled to arrive in Nashville, Jean e-mailed to ask if we’d mind if she brought Norbert Putnam (Dan’s longtime record producer) and his wife Sheryl along to hear our pitch. Of course she could!
With our materials, my laptop, and Victor’s videos in hand, we got on a plane and flew from LA to Nashville, Tennessee. It would be the six of us in a conference room in the Vanderbilt Hotel on Feb 19, 2011.
- Kate Atkinson