Variety reports that the musical about "the volunteer American air guard that helped defend China from the Japanese during World War II" will feature direction and choreography by Walter Painter, who staged the musical numbers for the Tony-winning musical City of Angels. The musical, according to the industry paper, will boast a cast of 25-30 as well as "an environmental set and dogfight sequences."
Flying Tigers is being written by William Luce (book), Roger Anderson (music) and Playbill.com editor Kenneth Jones (lyrics). The creative team will include Robin Wagner (set design), William Ivey Long (costume design) and Ken Billington (lighting design).
In addition to the recruitment process for the Flying Guard, the musical will also feature a romantic storyline between an American nurse and a Chinese doctor. The lead character of the musical, which is still in formation, will likely be General Claire L. Chennault, who created the famed volunteer group. Producer Gregory hopes Tom Wopat will play that role.
William Luce is known for penning biographical plays Barrymore, Lillian, Lucifer's Child, Bronte, Bravo, Caruso!, Zelda, Baptiste and The Belle of Amherst as well as libretti for operas. His work has been seen on Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Tokyo and Toronto, and other cities around the world. Luce's plays have been pure gold for actors. Julie Harris won her fifth Tony Award for playing Emily Dickinson in Luce's Belle of Amherst, and she was Tony-nominated for playing Isak Dinesen in his Lucifer's Child. Christopher Plummer snagged a Tony Award for playing John Barrymore in Luce's play, Barrymore.
Composer Roger Anderson wrote music for the Carbonell Award-winning musical Chaplin (lyrics by Lee Goldsmith, book by Ernest Kinoy), Shine! The Horatio Alger Musical (lyrics by Goldsmith, book by Richard Seff) and the new suspense-spiked musical Ladykiller (lyrics by Goldsmith, book by Chuck Blasius). Lyricist Kenneth Jones is an alumnus of The BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. He penned book and lyrics for an O Henry-inspired musical comedy Voice of the City (music by Elaine Chelton). Karen Azenberg directed the show's first public reading, at Off-Broadway's York Theatre Company. In addition to collaborating on Flying Tigers, he is writing lyrics for a family-friendly fable-filled musical with Canadian composer Marek Norman, and a darkly comic holiday musical with fellow BMI alumnus composer Gerald Stockstill.