Working in intriguing collaboration, Marvin Hamlisch, Craig Carnelia, John Guare and director Nicholas Hytner are headed back to Broadway with a new musical, The Sweet Smell of Success, under the auspices of Canada's Livent, Inc.
The project was announced in 1996 as being under development, but the creative team is now complete and moving into serious pre-production.
According to Livent spokesperson Ian Rand, the musical, based on Ernest Lehman's stories and 1957 film, is scheduled for a summer 1998 staged reading at Livent's Fifth Annual Summer Festival of New Musicals at York University in Toronto, with a full-scale production to follow.
The NY Times has quoted Livent creative director Garth Drabinsky saying he hopes to take the show to Broadway in the fall of 1999.
Other Livent projects include Kiss of the Spider Woman, Show Boat, Candide and Ragtime on Broadway, and the upcoming Fosse and The Seussical. Nicholas Hytner (Carousel) is scheduled to direct The Sweet Smell of Success, about a powerful Walter Winchell-like Broadway columnist named J.J. Hunsecker. Burt Lancaster starred as Hunsecker in the film; Tony Curtis played a unctuous Broadway press agent. No casting has been announced for the stage version.
Composer Hamlisch is best known for his Tony- and Pulitzer-winning musical classic, A Chorus Line. He also had a long running hit with They're Playing Our Song, but has enjoyed less success with ensuing projects, including Smile and The Goodbye Girl.
Carnelia is perhaps best-known for his songs "Just a Housewife" and others from Working. He wrote Is There Life After High School?, which had a short Broadway run in the early 1980s, but was recorded and has attained a cult following. He recently performed a cabaret act of his songs.
Guare is the award-winning author of Six Degrees of Separation, The House of Blue Leaves, Four Baboons Adoring the Sun and the film Atlantic City.
Author Lehman, who co-wrote the 1957 film script of The Sweet Smell of Success with playwright Clifford Odets, is scheduled to co-produce the musical adaptation with Livent and David Brown.
The pattern of assembling an eclectic mix of big-gun talent on the creative side and keeping an original author closely involved in the production echoes Livent's successful formula for Ragtime.