Levinson's decision to provide more of a female perspective dovetailed neatly with his choice for songwriter.
"Sheryl had a really good understanding of 'Diner' and the guys, but also what I was hoping for in terms of the female characters," Levinson says. "She was able to find the essence of that."
Crow, who has not attempted to write a musical before ("When Barry asked me to do this I was flattered and taken aback"), found particular inspiration in the character of Barbara, casual girlfriend to a "Diner" guy attending grad school.
"She has found out she's pregnant, but she wants to keep her job," Crow says. "She isn't prepared to give all that up. She is the representative of a modern, changing woman in the story. So I made the style of her song different from the others. It's got an almost Burt Bacharach, '60s feel."
That song's expressive heat and strong hook could be easily appreciated during rehearsal, even with just a piano accompaniment.
Getting to the point where she felt comfortable with matching song, character and plot took Crow a while.
"Music was such a huge part of the movie, a dramatic character in and of itself," she says. "The first couple months, I was completely hung up."
But as she delved into the musical history of 1959, Crow found a good deal of inspiration.
"When you look at the 100 hits of that year, there was a whole gamut of styles, some waning, some [pointing to] the '60s," she says. "I knew exactly what I wanted to pull from that world. And I knew what songs I would write for inner monologues and what songs would be part of the action of the play. I'm proud of the music. But I'm hoping people will listen to it and not hear Sheryl Crow."
There are no other plans "on the horizon" for "Diner" beyond its Signature run, Schaeffer says. Whether it will eventually make it to Broadway remains an open question.
"That would be wonderful," Levinson says. "But for now, let's see just if we can put together a good show — that, to me, is the challenge — and see if we get an audience interested in a two-hour journey."
Given the caliber of the creative team, that interest is practically guaranteed. It doesn't hurt that the "Diner" title is such a strong brand in itself.