Carnival Latest Encores! Show with Bway Ambitions

News   Carnival Latest Encores! Show with Bway Ambitions What would the new year be without a promised Broadway transfer of an Encores! show. Two years ago, the musicals-in-concert series' rendition of Wonderful Town was the hot property. Plans for a commercial run fizzled, however, as star Donna Murphy became unavailable. Then last year, there was talk the counter-culture crowd-pleaser Hair would go to Broadway. Producers Barry and Fran Weissler recently said those plans were dead.

What would the new year be without a promised Broadway transfer of an Encores! show. Two years ago, the musicals-in-concert series' rendition of Wonderful Town was the hot property. Plans for a commercial run fizzled, however, as star Donna Murphy became unavailable. Then last year, there was talk the counter-culture crowd-pleaser Hair would go to Broadway. Producers Barry and Fran Weissler recently said those plans were dead.

The latest Encores! property to receive a Broadway-bound spin is Bob Merrill and Michael Stewart's Carnival, which ran at City Center Feb. 7-10 and topped all previous box office records, bringing is $672,717. (The previous box office champ was Hair.)

Debbie Gravitte, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Douglas Sills and Anne Hathaway starred in Carnival, which also featured the puppets of the Jim Henson company. Kathleen Marshall directed.

Julian Schlossberg has bought the rights to the show. He told Playbill On Line that he wanted to stage the musical on Broadway. The mounting would be a full-scale production, not a copy of the concert version Encores! presented.

Asked if this would prove another Encores! false alarm, Schlossberg said "I'm very serious. I know other producers have said they wanted to bring Encores! shows to Broadway, and then didn't, but I have 25 shows under my belt and I don't think there's been one where I've said I'm going to bring it to Broadway and I didn't." Schlossberg hopes to keep all the major personnel of the Encores! show, including Gravitte, Mitchell, Sills and Hathaway, director Marshall and the Henson puppets. He mentioned spring 2003 at a possible target date.

To date, the only Encores! Show to transfer to Broadway is Chicago. The revival is still running at the Shubert Theatre after more than five years.