Baz Luhrmann Talks About Strictly Ballroom, the Stage Musical — a Natural for NYC

News   Baz Luhrmann Talks About Strictly Ballroom, the Stage Musical — a Natural for NYC

Tara Morice and Paul Mercurio in the movie "Strictly Ballroom"

Photo: Miramax

Baz Luhrmann told Playbill On-Line that his theatrical producing company, Bazmark Live, is developing his hit 1992 film, "Strictly Ballroom," into a stage musical.

Since the picture's release, observers saw the property — about a fiery ballroom dancer who thumbs his nose at the ballroom community and takes an unglamorous partner under his wing — as a perfect possibility for a Broadway worthy musical. The picture had a natural music-and dance setting, characters with heart and the sort of physical and emotional transformation of character that you find in great musicals of the past. "For 13 years every producer has chased it, like maniacally," Luhrmann told Playbill On-Line. "We'll own it and control it, and the question is whether I direct it or not. Everything we do is based on a life decision."

The most recent "life decision" of Luhrmann and designer wife Catherine Martin is moving to New York to stage and oversee their hit production of La Bohème on Broadway (previews begin Nov. 29 at the Broadway Theatre). Their take on the Puccini classic was a sensation in their native Australia in the 1990s.

"We wanted to live in New York," Luhrmann said. "'Strictly Ballroom' and 'Moulin Rouge,' we're developing. It will take a while."

News of stage versions of his films, "Moulin Rouge" and "Strictly Ballroom," has circulated for some months, but in the weeks leading to La Bohème, he shared more information.

Is Strictly Ballroom, the musical, possible for a Broadway start?

"New York has a fabulous ballroom culture and history," Luhrmann said. "There are a lot of spaces I'd like to do it in. Roseland would be great, or the Hammerstein Ballroom would be great to do it in — that's a fabulous space."

The goal, he said, would not be a conventional Broadway theatre, but "to take a space and treat it as an environmental production."

Luhrmann said he's begun work on Strictly Ballroom with a composer, but he declined to mention any names.

"You wouldn't believe the composers who have wanted to do this, since the [film's release]," Luhrmann said. "Both pop — very famous, the most famous of pop composers — and also the Broadway folk."

Lurhmann added, "Everyone sees the natural potential of [it]. It's a dance musical — song and dance."

The Australian-set movie starred Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice, Bill Hunter, Barry Otto, Gia Carides, Peter Whitford and John Hannan.