Alain Boublil, who co-wrote Les Miz and Miss Saigon to international smash-hit success, told Playbill reporter Harry Haun that he will team with his longtime composer/co-writer Claude-Michel Schönberg and composer Michael Legrand on Marguerite, a musical based on the durable Alexandre Dumas fils play, La Dame aux camélias. This time, Schönberg will contribute words, not music.
Opera lovers know the Dumas yarn as the basis of Verdi's La Traviata.
"Our next show is something unusual for us because we are working together as book writers on a show which will have music written by Michel Legrand," Boublil revealed. "It's 'The Lady of the Camellias' during the Second World War — La Traviata during the German Occupation in France."
Boublil said the musical — titled Marguerite after the play's title consumptive courtesan, who falls for a younger man — is being planned to open in London in 2008.
Why isn't Schönberg penning the music? Boublil explained, "Michel Legrand had been touring the world with my wife, Marie Zamora, in concerts. He always wanted to write a musical for her. That's why he came to me. Otherwise, he wouldn't have come to me. I don't know him. I met him one night and he said, and he said, 'Why don't we work up a musical for Marie?' And I said, 'Yes. Why not? Maybe?' And then Michel said, 'A good idea for Marie would be something based on 'Lady of the Camellias.' Then I got the idea of updating it to World War II. Then I asked [Claude-]Michel would you consider only writing the book and not the music this time because the whole project comes from Michel, and he said yes. So that how we found ourselves embarked on this project…"
Michel Legrand, the composer widely known for his fetching jazz waltzes and alluring melodies in films, was Tony Award nominated for his score to the musical Amour, which was preserved on a cast album. He has received three Academy Awards and five Grammy Awards and composed many memorable motion picture scores including "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," "The Young Girls of Rochefort," "The Go-Between," "Ice Station Zebra," "Forty Carats," "The Three Musketeers," "Summer of '42," "The Thomas Crown Affair," "Lady Sings the Blues," "Atlantic City" and "Yentl."
Legrand's songs include "I Will Wait for You," "The Summer Knows," "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?," "The Windmills of Your Mind," "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?," "The Hands of Time" (from "Brian's Song") and "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" (the last six written with Alan and Marilyn Bergman). A conductor and virtuoso jazz pianist, he has appeared with symphony orchestras worldwide. He has made more than 100 albums.
Boublil and Schönberg won 1987 Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Score of Musical for Les Miz (now being revived on Broadway), and were nominated in the same categories for 1991's Miss Saigon (Richard Maltby Jr. was their lyricist collaborator on the project and was also nominated as a songwriter).
Their new musical with Maltby is The Pirate Queen, a slice of Irish history coming to Broadway this spring following a run fall 2006 run in Chicago. Frank Galati directs.
The Dumas play is known in English as Camille and was also a popular movie starring Greta Garbo. For generations, the role has been coveted by actresses of a certain age.