Mark Bramble, the librettist who teamed with composer Cy Coleman and lyricist Michael Stewart to create Barnum, is again working with Coleman on a project that the three Barnum collaborators began before the death of Stewart in 1987.
Bramble told Playbill On-Line that he and Coleman have renewed their interest in their shelved musical, Nothing But the Truth, and there is interest from a British star to do the show in London.
The musical is based on a play of the same name by James Montgomery and concerns a man who must tell the truth for 24 hours. The play (and apparently a novel before it) has inspired several film versions.
Bramble is writing the book. A number of songs by lyricist Stewart and composer Coleman were already written, and the score is to be filled out with previously unused songs Coleman wrote with Dorothy Fields (Seesaw, Sweet Charity) and Carolyn Leigh (Wildcat, Little Me). Bramble and Coleman will also fill in the blanks with their own lyrics, Bramble said.
"It was too hard to go back to after Mike died," Bramble said of the shelving of the script at the time of Stewart's death. "Last summer Cy and I thought that was a mistake — enough time has passed...let's revisit this." There are nine songs by Stewart and Coleman in the can for the show, Bramble said. Stewart (who wrote the books to Hello, Dolly!, Carnival and Bye Bye Birdie) was 63 when he died of pneumonia following surgery in 1987.
Bramble co-wrote the libretti of 42nd Street and The Grand Tour with Stewart, and has sole credit for the book to Barnum. Bramble staged the initial London debut of 42nd Street, basing it on Gower Champion's original direction, and is directing a new and slightly revised 2001 revival for Broadway's Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Previews begin April 4, with an opening slated for May 2.
Bramble also penned the book to a new musical, Lily & Lily, about twin sisters — one a movie star, one a preacher's wife — who switch roles in the late 1930s. Billy Stritch is the composer, Mark Waldrop wrote the lyrics. A workshop was seen in February at the University of Oklahoma, in association with Goodspeed Musicals.