Dutch Producer Has High Hopes for Cy Coleman's Grace, the Musical

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There is hope that Princess Grace will sing on Broadway, the Dutch producer of Grace, the Musical, told Playbill On-Line.

For now, Bert Maas said, the unique collaboration between American composer Cy Coleman and Dutch lyricist-librettist Seth Gaaikema will continue its open-ended Dutch-language run at the Grace Theatre, a venue built especially for Maas' musical, in Amsterdam. Maas hopes the musical will become an international franchise along the lines of Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera, and said that if there is a Broadway production it would include new collaborators to write English lyrics to Coleman's music. Maas said there is interest from producers in Japan, Germany, Belgium and elsewhere, and he hopes it plays on Coleman's home turf, Broadway.

The show, which opened Oct. 25, 2001, has a lot of Broadway talent involved. Maas said he knew Americans create the best musicals, so he sought U.S. artists when putting Grace together over the past year. Don Sebesky (a Tony Award winner for Kiss Me, Kate) is the orchestrator, Patricia Birch (Parade) is the choreographer and Eugene Lee (Sweeney Todd, Ragtime) is the set designer. (Rien Bekkers is the costume designer, Frans Weisz is the director.)

The show came together very quickly between 2000-2001, although the idea for a Grace musical was pitched to Maas as early as 1995. It wasn't until Gaaikema came up with the idea of a kind of creative love triangle for the show's plot that Maas knew there was musical potential for the subject of American film actress Grace Kelly, who would marry Prince Rainier of Monaco. The fictionalized plot has director Alfred Hitchcock wooing Kelly back to Hollywood, and her being torn between two kingdoms and two forms of royalty — Hitchcock and Rainier.

Maas said the unique take on the Kelly story is what attracted the Tony Award-winning Coleman (Barnum, Sweet Charity, The Life) to the project. Coleman and Gaaikema worked together by long distance, with occasional visits to each other's home country. Maas said the show is a traditional book musical in the Broadway tradition. Maas, a real estate developer with a passion for the theatre, has been a lifelong fan of the late Kelly, whose fairytale story made her an American Cinderella of the 20th century, "I always admired her movies," Maas said by phone from the Netherlands. "I always admired the way she brought Monaco out of a slump. Every year we went on holiday there...she came on the scene, and all of the sudden you saw Monaco climbing out of its poorness and sadness."

Because of a lack of theatre availability in Holland, Maas constructed the Grace Theatre and adorned the interior with murals showing the palace of Monaco.

For more information about Grace, the Musical, check out the website at gracethemusical.nl.