With the return of A Christmas Carol and The Wizard Of Oz safely announced for Nov./Dec. 1997 and April 1998, respectively, New York's Madison Square Garden Productions can also turn its attention to its next project: a stage adaptation of the film, Footloose. Walter Bobbie, who won a Tony for his work on Chicago, will direct.
The 1984 movie starred Sarah Jessica Parker, Lori Singer and Kevin Bacon and told of a young man who tries to re-introduce dancing to a small town where a fiery preacher has gotten it banned.
Tim Hawkins, Footloose producer and head of Madison Square Garden productions, told Playbill On-Line, June 9, "We are just starting today a five-week workshop in New York, with a cast of 30 actors. Dean Pitchford, who wrote the original screenplay and all the lyrics to the songs in the film, is in town working with Bobbie, as well as Tom Snow, who composed eight new songs for the stage show." Footloose will therefore offer eight songs from the film, including "Holding Out For A Hero," "Let's Hear It For The Boy," and "Footloose," and eight new songs.
Hawkins estimated that Footloose was, as of the first week in June, about a year away from a production, which will be co-produced with the Dodgers (The King And I, Titanic). "We want to get through this process through the summer and evaluate it at the end. Then we hope to produce the show next spring and be up and running in the summer. First will come a number of multi-week engagements in advance of New York. We expect to start in Houston. . . for four weeks in May `98. Then Dallas and Seattle and a couple of other places before New York's Madison Square Garden." A press release from MSG (dated Aug. 21) gave the estimated New York arrival time for Footloose as August 1998.
"The goal is to create a piece of real musical theatre," said Hawkins, "not simply to put the film onstage, since it's not so much a movie musical as a movie with songs. It's been quite a challenge to make the songs work in the context of a book musical. We feel we are on the right track, and part of this workshop is discovering where we are in the process." Hawkins continued, "We've also hired a young choreographer, A.C. Chiulla, who was one of a number of young choreographers who did a short audition piece for us a few weeks ago. We were really knocked out by him. He's a totally fresh talent whose work has really not been seen. I'd rather not talk about cast right now because we're not sure who will ultimately do the show. We have a solid group of young actors, young New York talent, but the casting for the show is still up for grabs."
Asked about the size of MSG perhaps working against a traditional musical, Hawkins replied, "The stage is very broad, and there's lots of seats..but it's not that different from a lot of the theatres we play in on the road in terms of scale. On the road, the average is 2,500-3,000 seats. We think it'll work in the 5,000 seat Madison Square Garden theatre, too."
Hawkins also assured Footloose fans a CD would eventually materialize once the cast was in place. "It was the third most successful movie soundtrack of all time -- I think the record companies will be interested!"