The worldwide rights to Sara Gruen's novel were purchased by producers Peter Schneider and Elisabetta di Mambro, in association with Broadway Across America and Mehr! Entertainment.
The producers are beginning talks with composers, writers and directors to work on the adaptation, di Mambro said.
"In this Depression-era novel, young Jacob Jankowski's life is dramatically changed when he is tossed by fate onto a train that is the home of the 'Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth,'" press notes state. "Just shy of his veterinary degree, Jacob is hired to doctor the circus's animal menagerie. During this time, he bonds with Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but emotionally troubled superintendent of animals. The tempestuous triangle that develops becomes even more complicated when Rosie, an Asian elephant with a personality to match any of the humans, enters the picture. 'The Great Gray Hope' for this third-rate traveling show raises the stakes — both literally and figuratively — in this romantic saga of love and trust pitted against danger and evil."
"I have loved Sara Gruen's 'Water for Elephants' since it was first published and was captivated by its theatricality," Schneider said in a statement. "It is so dramatic — a woman who is trapped in a relationship for all the wrong reasons meets and falls in love with a man for all the right reasons. Throw in an elephant as a matchmaker and you have the potential for a show of great imagination and emotional depth."
"I am beyond thrilled to be involved in a creative process that is entirely new to me, especially with such wonderfully talented people at the helm to reimagine my work for the stage," Gruen added. "When I wrote the book, I hoped people would think about the way we treat those who are dependent on us — animals, the elderly, the debilitated, as well as the power of love in all its forms, and it's going to be amazing to see this message delivered in such an exciting medium." "Water for Elephants" was adapted into a 2011 film starring Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz.
Further information about the creative team will be announced at a later time.