EXCLUSIVE: Rocker Melissa Etheridge will provide the musical ingredients for a stage adaptation of Mystic Pizza, the 1988 MGM rom-com that launched Julia Roberts and gave an early look at a very young, lobster-eating Matt Damon. The new production, announced today by Lively McCabe Entertainment, will be directed by Gordon Greenberg, who is co-writing the book with Sas Goldberg based on the story and characters by original screenwriter Amy Holden Jones.
“MGM’s Mystic Pizza is a seminal film for an entire generation of young people looking to distinguish themselves in a rapidly changing world,” said Greenberg. “Adapting Amy Holden Jones’ original screenplay for the stage with rock icon Melissa Etheridge, a beacon of strength and raw musical energy, and the brilliantly hilarious Sas Goldberg, is a dream collaboration on a story that is as relevant today as it was when we all first experienced it.”
Production plans and additional creative team will be announced shortly. Mystic Pizza will be published and licensed by Concord Theatricals. Producer Lively McCabe Entertainment, led by producer Michael Barra and co-founder Katie Dietz, specializes in packaging and adapting iconic intellectual property into new stories for theater, film/TV, and book publishing.
Though specific plans – Broadway, Off Broadway, regional – have not been announced, the Mystic Pizza development is happening as Broadway has recently welcomed a slew of film-to-stage productions, including, among others, Network, To Kill a Mockingbird, Pretty Woman (which, of course, also starred Roberts onscreen), Mean Girls, Frozen, The Band’s Visit and King Kong. Heading to Broadway this season are Beetlejuice, Tootsie and Moulin Rouge, while director Ivo van Hove’s non-musical All About Eve is in the wings on London’s West End.
Greenberg has some experience in that arena as well, having adapted the musical Holiday Inn, based on the 1942 film starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire for Broadway in 2016. Among other credits, he directed the Huey Lewis jukebox musical The Heart of Rock and Roll, which premiered at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre in September, and is developing a stage adaptation of the Michael J. Fox 1987 movie The Secret of My Success for Universal.
Mystic Pizza co-writer Sas Goldberghas sold and developed television scripts and pilots at NBC, Fox, Sony, Warner Brothers and Bravo, but is perhaps best known as an actress, with Broadway credits including Significant Other and, on film and TV, Ocean’s 8, FX’s You’re The Worst and Showtime’s Happyish. She co-wrote, produced and starred in the film Are You Joking?, and the musical series The Battery’s Down, and recently wrote an NBC pilot, with Jeffrey Seller and Flody Suarez producing. She will next be seen recurring on the upcoming Jenji Kohan produced series American Princess for Lifetime.
In addition to her Grammy-winning recording career, Etheridge has some theater experience as well: She made her Broadway debut in 2011 in the Green Day rock opera American Idiot, temporarily replacing Billie Joe Armstrong in the role of St. Jimmy.
The 1988 Mystic Pizza film starred Roberts, Annabeth Gish and Lili Taylor as waitresses at a Mystic, Connecticut, pizza parlor, their working class lives in stark contrast to the town’s country club set. Damon had a small role as one of the latter, making an onscreen splash with his dinner conversation about he “green stuff” in his lobster.
The film script was written by Amy Holden Jones, who went on to create, in 2014, ABC’s Black Box. She currently is the exec producer and co-creator of Fox’s The Resident.
Mystic Pizza, said director Greenberg in a statement, features “three strong young women at its core, and [is] set in a community of immigrants dealing with traditionally limited expectations amid shifting class dynamics.”
Lively McCabe Entertainment is repped by Max Grossman and Brad Rosenfeld at Abrams Artists Agency and, for theater, Jason Aylesworth at Sendroff & Baruch.