Conceived by Twyla Tharp, the musical tells the story of a generation of American youth growing up on Long Island during the 1960s and their experiences with the Vietnam War. The principal characters are drawn from those who appeared in various Joel tunes: high school sweethearts Brenda and Eddie ("Scenes from an Italian Restaurant"), James ("James"), Judy ("Why Judy Why"), and Tony (Anthony in "Movin' Out"). The show is unusual in that, unlike the traditional musical, it essentially is a series of dances linked by a thin plot, and none of the dancers sing. All the vocals are performed by a pianist and band suspended on a platform above the stage while the dancers act out the narrative sans dialogue, making the show, in essence, a rock ballet.

The West End production opened on April 10, 2006, at London's Apollo Victoria Theatre where, despite receiving mostly solid reviews, it ran for less than two months. James Fox and Darren Reeves were the leads. Situated across from Victoria Station, away from the city's hub of theatre activity, and with more than 2500 seats, the Apollo Victoria was in a poor location and far too large for the production. The show was marketed as a traditional musical rather than the dance production it is, and Joel had not had any major hits in the UK for several years, so he wasn't a major draw for mainstream audiences.