Now that the Broadway season has ended with the Tony Awards, it’s time to think about what’s next. Broadway has embraced movie stars who turn shows into events in limited runs; how about taking a page from Hollywood and going the brand route? Producer Dianne Fraser has acquired stage rights to Gilligan’s Island: The Musical, and she plans to launch the show on Broadway, banking on the idea that the audience for the iconic TV show will want to see the characters brought to the stage.
It’s based on the classic 1960s series with a book that was written by series creator Sherwood Schwartz and his son Lloyd, with a score by Schwartz’s daughter Hope and her husband Laurence Juber, a guitarist-composer. Schwartz, who also created The Brady Bunch, passed away last year, but not before the show was road-tested in small theaters across the country. It’s very similar to the format of the original show, with Gilligan, the Skipper, The Howells, Ginger, Maryanne and the Professor stranded on an island. They’ve added another character: an alien.
Fraser, a longtime partner at Industry who was a producer of the Chicago-based show Working last year, said she was approached by the Schwartz clan and signed on with plans to bring the show to Broadway for 2013 or 2014. That’s all predicated on getting investors to climb aboard. “I’ve known the Schwartz family for many years, and for Sherwood, who died last July, it was his lifelong dream to take the show to New York,” she told me. “It’s not intentionally campy, it’s funny in a broad way and very true to the show. It’s amazing how even kids know about it because they’ve seen it on Nick at Nite. 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.” She said they are working with Tony-nominated general manager Tom Smedes and they are looking to next land a director. “It’s the type of show where you can stunt cast with movie stars to play the Howells, Ginger, even the Professor,” she said. “Maybe an American Idol contestant to play Gilligan, to open up the show.”