On Broadway, virtually anything can be converted into a winning stage production, particularly if the project already has some familiarity built in.
Take Sunday’s Tony Awards. The big winner of the evening, Once, is based on an Oscar-winning indie romance. Elsewhere on the Tonys, it was modern spins on vintage material that triumphed, be it Death of a Salesman or the musical Porgy & Bess.
Broadway often mines the film and television world when it’s hard-pressed for new stage ideas. Look to Tony-winning productions of The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Legally Blonde, The Producers and more as proof that New York’s Great White Way takes more than inspiration from Hollywood, its neighbor to the West.
And it might be happening again. Deadline reports that Broadway producer Dianne Fraser has acquired the rights to Gilligan’s Island: The Musical, and is hoping to capitalize on audience nostalgia by bringing the story of the stranded castaways to the stage.
The book and music for the show have been composed by Gilligan’s Island creator Sherwood Schwartz and his children — son Lloyd and daughter Hope. According to the trade, the late Schwartz road-tested the show before he passed away, and it follows the template of the TV sitcom very closely, with one key addition: an alien.
“It’s not intentionally campy, it’s funny in a broad way and very true to the show,” Fraser said. “It’s amazing how even kids know about it because they’ve seen it on Nick at Night. It’s still Gilligan, the bumbling sidekick to the professor, saving the world. And yes, it’s all seven characters, plus an alien. The songs are very commercial.”
Fraser and Tony-nominated general manager Tom Smedes are looking to hire a director, and would like to get the show into theaters by 2013 or '14. And if she gets her way, there’ll be a little star power behind the production.
“It’s the type of show where you can stunt cast with movie stars to play the Howells, Ginger, even the Professor,” Fraser hinted. “Maybe an American Idol contestant to play Gilligan, to open up the show.”
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