The costs of an out-of-town try out are prohibitive for many new musicals, forcing them to begin previews on Broadway with work still ahead of them. However, producers and directors admit that the chance to develop and fine-tune a new production away from the eyes of New York audiences is one of the most important things afforded to any new production.
By seeking out and uniting these various theatrical institutions, Elephant Eye hopes to not only fund new works, but to also secure homes for the out-of-town tryouts of its new productions, as well as finding venues to launch national tours or regional productions.
Elephant Eye was initially founded by producers Stuart Oken and Michael Leavitt, along with five original non-profit regional companies known as Five Cent productions, including the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts of Hartford, CT; The Citi Performing Arts Center (formally the Wang Center) of Boston, MA; Ordway Center for the Performing Arts of St. Paul, MN; The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts of Philadelphia, PA; and The Pittsburgh CLO and The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust (shared) of Pittsburgh, PA.
Joining forces with Elephant Eye are fellow non-profits The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, FL; The Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Tampa, FL; The Carnival Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, FL; Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, NY; The Victoria Theatre Association in Dayton, OH; The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ; Theater of the Stars and The Fox Theatre (shared) in Atlanta, GA.
The commercial presenters who have come on board include Broadway In Chicago, a Nederlander/Live Nation partnership in Chicago, IL; Dancap Productions, producer Aubrey Dan's new initiative based in Toronto, Canada; and Starmax, a leading entertainment organization in Seoul, Korea. Slated for development by Elephant Eye are the musicals The Addams Family, a new musical based on characters, cartoons and sketches by the legendary cartoonist Charles Addams. Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, writers of the 2006 Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Jersey Boys, serve as librettists for The Addams Family, while Drama Desk Award-winning composer/lyricist Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party) is writing the score. Improbable Theater founders Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch (Shockheaded Peter) will direct and design. The Addams Family plans for a Broadway bow during the 2009-2010 season after an out-of-town engagement.
Bruce Lee: Journey to the West - a musical following the mythic journey of two Chinese legends: martial arts star Bruce Lee and the beloved Chinese warrior god, The Monkey King. The book is by Tony Award winner David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly) and music and lyrics are by Tony nominee David Yazbek (The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), the musical will be directed by Tony nominee Bartlett Sher (The Light in the Piazza, Awake and Sing). After out-of-town try outs, Bruce Lee: Journey to the West aims for a 2010-2011 Broadway debut.
Elephant Eye and Playwrights Horizons will co-develop Saved, the new musical based on the acclaimed film. Set at a Christian high school where students, teachers and parents find faith in unexpected places, music and lyrics are by Obie winner Michael Friedman (Gone Missing, Romeo & Juliet for Shakespeare in the Park this summer) and book and lyrics by Olivier Award nominee John Dempsey (The Witches of Eastwick, The Fix, Zombie Prom) and Obie Award winner Rinne Groff (The Ruby Sunrise, "Weeds"). Saved will be directed by Gary Griffin (The Color Purple) and will open in Spring 2008 at Playwrights Horizons.