Grammy-winning Punk and New Wave songwriter Elvis Costello hosted an invitation-only industry New York reading of his musical A Face in the Crowd the week of June 5, according to The New York Post.
The Post reported that the show's backers would like to get Tony-winner Hugh Jackman to play the central role of Lonesome Larry Rhodes, but gave no indication that Jackman was immediately interested.
Costello has been working with librettist Sarah Ruhl on the musical for several years, and reportedly has written 17 songs for the score, including “A Face In The Crowd,” “Town Called Riddle,” “Vitajex,” “They Call Me Mrs. Lonesome,” “Blood And Hot Sauce,” “Burn The Paper Down To Ash” and “American Mirror.” Costello unveiled the title song at a Salt Lake City concert in April 2015 and has been putting songs from the score into his concerts ever since.
The show is based on the 1957 film, written by Budd Schulberg, and directed by Elia Kazan, in which Andy Griffith starred as a homeless man who gets his own radio show in Arkansas. His homey bromides catapult him to national prominence and the power goes straight to his head. Soon, he's trying trying to influence national politics, and perhaps even thinking of running for president himself, on the slogan “Blood and Hot Sauce!” Though written in the 1950s, the story has new resonance in the age of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Donald Trump.
A detailed description of the project can be found here along with quotes from many of the lyrics.
Costello's only Broadway credit is a concert gig he played at the Broadway Theatre in October 1986, titled Costello Sings Again.
A Face in the Crowd is one of at least three musicals Costello has mentioned over the last few years as active projects for him. They include Painted from Memory, a collaboration between Burt Bacharach, Chuck Lorre and Costello, based on Costello's pop album.
Costello also has worked on a chamber opera titled The Secret Songs, based on storyteller Hans Christian Andersen's infatuation with opera singer Jenny Lind.