Featuring book, music and lyrics by Caroline Sherman and Robert Hull, Empire has been in development since 1999. Full productions were previously staged in Los Angeles (2003) and Stamford, CT (2004). A revised incarnation of Empire received a New York City reading in 2009.
Matt Lenz is the director of the current five-week developmental workshop of the Depression-era musical about New York City's landmark Empire State Building, which will culminate in the fully-staged Oct. 27 and 28 presentations.
While no official plans for a Broadway production have been announced, a full design team of Broadway veterans are in place. The official website for Empire states a 2011-2012 Broadway target. The producing team had previously hoped to bring the musical to Broadway in previous seasons.
In addition to Huffman (The Producers, Will Rogers Follies) and Rupert (Legally Blonde, Falsettos), the readings include Eric William Morris (Mamma Mia!), Ashley Brown (Mary Poppins), Fred Applegate (Sister Act, La Cage aux Folles), Lisa Karlin (The Addams Family), Jordan Dean (Cymbeline), Wolfgang Scheitinger ("Law & Order: SVU"), Marissa Perry (Hairspray) and Natalie Bradshaw (Sister Act).
Empire has choreography by Michele Lynch, set design by Klara Zieglerova, lighting by Natasha Katz, costumes by Jess Goldstein, sound design by Steve Kennedy, projections by Wendell Harrington and musical direction by Eric Stern. The producing team for Empire includes Marquee Theatrical Ventures, Sue Vaccaro, The Rivet Gang, Lynne Walder Esq., Katy Kinney Harris, J. Joanna Jung, Jeff Davis, Howard Olah-Reiken, Dr. Dale Archer, and Michael and Gabrielle Palitz. Bespoke Theatricals/Amy Jacobs is general manager.
According to the authors, Empire "tells the story of an ambitious young architect and a hardheaded female reporter who, despite their conflicting ideology, fall for each other. Surrounding them, a group of architects, workers, engineers and financiers dared to dream bigger than anyone had before. Together, they created a New York City landmark and a symbol of hope at a time when the city needed it the most."