Des McAnuff Leads ‘Dr. Zhivago’ Musical To Broadway – UPDATE

UPDATE, 9:30 AM with more info: After eight years of development, director Des McAnuff and a creative team that includes playwright and screenwriter Michael Weller, composer Lucy Simon and lyricists Michael Korie and Amy Powers will bring their musical adaptation of Dr. Zhivago to the Broadway Theatre in the spring, following the post-New Year’s exit of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Lead producer is Anita Waxman, whose shows include Rocky The Musical. She’s joined by Tom Dockton, Latitude Link, Ted Hartley/RKO Stage and South Korean impresario Chunsoo Shin.

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 5.54.00 PMThe show is slated to begin previews March 27 and open April 21.

The 1957 Boris Pasternak novel, adapted for David Lean’s classic 1965 film starring Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin and Alec Guinness inspired the show, which was first produced in 2006 at the La Jolla Playhouse, where McAnuff (Jersey Boys, The Who’s Tommy) was artistic director. In 2011,  a revamped version was staged in Sydney.

The creatives bring extraordinary credentials: Weller made his name as the playwright of Moonchildren, Loose Ends and others before going on to write the screenplays for  Milos Forman’s films of Hair (1979) and Ragtime (1981). Simon made her Broadway debut with 1991’s The Secret Garden. Korie was a Tony nominee as co-lyricist of the critically acclaimed musical adaptation of Grey Gardens, and Powers wrote the lyrics to the two best songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard — “With One Look” and “As If We Never Said Goodbye.”

51193618Like Lean’s Oscar-winning screenwriter Robert Bolt, McAnuff & Co. have their work cut out for them, simplifying a sprawling love story that begins in Imperial Russia, extends through the first World War, the Russian revolution and Stalin’s Gulag, and concludes after World War II. And they have the challenge of matching Maurice Jarre’s Oscar-winning score and its leitmotif of “Lara’s Theme.”

The choreographer is Kelly Devine, who staged the dances for Rocky and worked with McAnuff on the global hit Jersey Boys, still running on Broadway at the August Wilson. The rest of the creative team includes Michael Scott-Mitchell (sets), Paul Tazewell (costumes), Howell Binkley (lighting), Steve Canyon Kennedy (sound) and Sean Nieuwenhuis (projections). Musical-theater veterans Danny Troob and Eric Stern are handling orchestrations and music arrangement, respectively, with Ron Melrose as musical supervisor.

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