Wendy’s 1984 “Where’s the beef?” TV ad campaign remains one of the most iconic in history. It featured a catchphrase – uttered (well, more like screamed) by actress Clara Peller – that most people recognize to this day. And now someone thinks that catchphrase is worth devoting an entire musical to.
For at least three years, Marlene Necheles – daughter of Clara Peller – has been trying to turn her mother’s life story into a “Where’s the Beef” musical called Clara and the Beef. More than just a chance to capitalize on the famous line that will never get old, the musical hopes to explore the unlikely journey that led a beautician and single mother to become a national celebrity at the age of 81. (She passed away in 1987.)
Necheles penned the book and teamed up with musician Geoff Shell who wrote the music. The musical’s website features previews of some of the tunes and videos of Necheles and Shell discussing the project. According to the Columbus Dispatch, who recently wrote about the musical’s plight, the duo is currently looking for a theater company to take on the project for festival performances – this despite some possibly legal ambiguity. “I have the rights to Clara as a person, her image, and anything to do with that,” Necheles said. “There is some question about ‘Where’s the beef.’ ”
Clara and the Beef even had its own Kickstarter campaign earlier in the year, but it fell remarkably short of its $50,000 goal – raising a meager $1,619. Are people not interested in a musical about where the beef went?
Regardless, Necheles is still plugging away. “It’s never too late to go on a wild ride,” Shell told the Dispatch. “I see a lot of that as the heart of the story.” Maybe that will be the story of the Where’s the Beef musical as well.