The team that created the award-winning City of Angels, Cy Coleman (music), Larry Gelbart (book) and David Zippel (lyrics), have re teamed to create a new tuner based on the tempestuous, 11-year romance between Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte.
Production sources say Coleman, Gelbart and Zippel are preparing their musical for out-of-town tryouts in late 2000.
The latest project to be announced from the productive Coleman camp, the as-yet-unnamed Bonaparte musical, will explore the couple's rich and complex relationship, which paralleled Bonaparte's rise and subsequent influence on history.
"We've been writing for some time," composer Cy Coleman told Playbill On-Line, "with me and David and Larry edging up on the idea. Originally we were going to do another project, The Man that Got Away, which was based on "A Star is Born," but the rights were all botched up so we put that behind us over a year ago."
With this story, Coleman said, the three-man team talked about approaches to the material first. "The most difficult thing is finding the road in," Coleman explained. "Larry had ideas, and then we had meetings, and then we had it. I started four or five musical pieces and I've already caught what my style is going to be."
Production notes characterize Josephine Bonaparte as a Creole temptress from the island of Martinique and Napoleon as a quiet alcoholic, the rough product of the island of Corsica. The center of the musical is said to be based on their marriage and is captured in a popular saying from their day -- "the world listened at their bedroom door."
Coleman said that the work is following essentially the same pattern that he and his collaborators established with City of Angels.
"At the beginning we sat in Larry's office in Beverly Hills," Coleman said, "kind of woodshedding back and forth about the thing. Then we'd talk about the show and finally we came up with an outline. Since then, I've been writing and Larry's been writing -- in fact, Larry's been writing fast. .
"Meanwhile, I know exactly what I'm writing for and the direction I'm going in. David has sent me some lyrics and we're generating a lot of excitement among ourselves. It's the same as with City of Angels." Coleman explained that the show is not named, although several titles are being considered.
"We want to get something that's not so obvious and that depicts the work, if we can, but it needs to be concise. With City of Angels we didn't have 'angels' at first, in fact, we had lots of titles with 'devil' in it, but these things go back and forth and eventually you come up with it."
-- By Murdoch McBride