Levant, the classically-trained musician, actor and wit who played versions of his friends George Gershwin in An American In Paris and Adolph Green in The Band Wagon, has caught the attention of Hayes, who intends to play him on Broadway. To paraphrase Stephen Sondheim, all he needs is the show.
Hayes and his Hazy Mills Productions partner Todd Milliner announced Thursday morning that they have teamed up with Broadway teams Grove Entertainment and Barbara Whitman Productions to produce a show about Levant, who died at 65 in 1972 after a career that took him from Broadway to Hollywood, where he was a popular composer of film scores (and the American Songbook standard “Blame It On My Youth”). Levant was also famously possessed of a quick wit that sometimes got him in trouble with TV censors.
“I’ve been wanting to play Oscar Levant for over 10 years and this partnership is a dream come true,” said Hayes. “I have a deep passion for this project and an enduring love for my dear Oscar.”
An Emmy winner and Tony nominee (for a Promises, Promises revival opposite Kristin Chenoweth), Hayes also has worked as a composer and classical pianist in addition to his roles on TV, stage, and film. The show would mark Hazy Mills’ first theatrical venture after a decade producing for television, including Hot In Cleveland, The Soul Man and the upcoming NBC comedy Crowded, with Patrick Warburton & Carrie Preston.
“Oscar Levant was a brilliant entertainer and a complex man,” said Grove principle producer Beth Williams, whose partners include Mindy and Bob Rich, Jeremiah J. Harris, Darren P. DeVerna and Allan Williams. “Barbara and I are excited to have this opportunity to work with the equally brilliant Sean Hayes in bringing Mr. Levant to life again on the stage.” Grove is currently co-producing Tuck Everlasting and On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan. Whitman’s current shows include Tony winners Fun Home and Hedwig And The Angry Inch.
Information regarding the creative team will be announced prior to the beginning of rehearsals.