Pure Country, the Musical, Will Open on Broadway in Spring 2009

News   Pure Country, the Musical, Will Open on Broadway in Spring 2009 Producers Randall L. Wreghitt, Chris Presley and Ellen Rusconi are bringing a new country-flavored musical, Pure County, based on the 1992 movie of the same name, to Broadway in 2008-09.
Peter Masterson
Peter Masterson Photo by Aubrey Reuben

A spring 2009 world premiere is expected at a Broadway theatre to be announced, the producers revealed April 10.

The musical tells the story of a burned-out country music star who quits the business and searches for what he left behind.

The book is co-written by Peter Masterson (who co-wrote and co-directed Broadway's The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) and Rex McGee, the film's screenwriter. Masterson will also direct.

Music is by Grammy Award nominee Steve Dorff ("Every Which Way But Loose," Celine Dion's "Miracle," Kenny Rogers' "Through the Years"). Lyrics are by Grammy nominee John Bettis (George Strait's "Heartland" to Madonna's "Crazy for You").

Two of the film's songs ("Heartland" and "I Cross My Heart") will be in the otherwise new and original Broadway score. The score is billed as "eclectic" and "drawing on the sounds of New and Classic Country, as well as Broadway and Adult Contemporary." In Pure Country, according to the producers, "Rusty is a country music superstar at the height of his career with all the high stakes pressures that come with it. When they start to take their toll and he walks out of an overblown concert tour, his search begins to find himself — and the love he left behind. Pure Country is about the price of fame and one man's journey home."

The creative team will include Tony-nominated scenic designer Derek McLane (The Pajama Game), three-time Tony-nominated costume designer Ann Roth (The House of Blue Leaves, Singin' in the Rain and The Odd Couple), Tony-winning lighting designer Kevin Adams (Spring Awakening, Passing Strange) and the Drama Desk Award-winning sound designers Acme Sound Partners (for La Bohéme, plus Spamalot, In the Heights).

Choreographer will be Seán Curran (James Joyce's The Dead and Lincoln Center's Cymbeline on Broadway). Music director will be Eugene Gwozdz.

The movie, written by McGee and directed by Christopher Cain, starred George Strait (in his film debut), Lesley Ann Warren, Kyle Chandler and Rory Calhoun (in his final film appearance).

The soundtrack went to No. 1 on the U.S. Country Album Chart and spawned two No. 1 Country singles, "Heartland" and "I Cross My Heart." Both songs were written and co-produced by Steven Dorff, the composer of the musical.

Casting and dates for Pure Country will be announced in the coming months.

The musical will have a workshop in late April in Manhattan. An earlier developmental reading of the show was presented in May 2007 at New World Stages in Manhattan. Its cast featured High Fidelity's Will Chase, Tony Award winners Carlin Glynn (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) and Cady Huffman (The Producers) as well as James Moye (Urinetown) and Danny Rutigliano (The Lion King).

For more information, visit www.PureCountryOnBroadway.com.

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Houston native Masterson began his career as a New York and Broadway stage actor in Call Me By My Rightful Name in 1961 and subsequently worked in films, theatre and TV. In 1978, Masterson co-wrote (with Larry L. King and music and lyrics by Carol Hall) and co-directed (with Tommy Tune) the Broadway musical and worldwide hit The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which brought Masterson’s wife, Carlin Glynn, a Tony Award for her performance as Miss Mona. He and King also wrote the 1982 feature film adaptation of the musical. Masterson directed the feature version of Horton Foote's "The Trip to Bountiful," for which the actress Geraldine Page won the Academy Award for Best Actress. He also helmed the TV-movie version of Foote's "Lily Dale" (Showtime, 1996) starring his daughter, Mary Stuart Masterson.

Screenwriter McGee was a protégé of Oscar-winning filmmaker Billy Wilder. His screenplays include "Tiny Revolution" and "Whistling Dixie" and the recent Hallmark Mother's Day television movie, "Where There's a Will," starring Marion Ross and Keith Carradine. He is currently working on a new original screenplay about Texas debutantes, "Nose to the Toes."

Composer Dorff penned nine No. 1 songs and 15 Top Ten hits including Kenny Rogers' classic "Through the Years" and Anne Murray's "I Just Fall in Love Again." Stars who have sung his work include Celine Dion ("Miracle"), Barbra Streisand ("Higher Ground"), George Strait ("I Cross My Heart"), Clay Walker ("Hypnotize the Moon"), Whitney Houston ("Take Good Care of My Heart") and Eddie Rabbit ("Every Which Way But Loose").

Bettis has been nominated for two Emmys, three Grammys, a Golden Globe and an Oscar. He has written songs that have sold more than 250 million records for artists as diverse as George Strait ("Heartland"), Whitney Houston ("One Moment in Time"), Conway Twitty ("Slow Hand"), Celine Dion ("If You Could See Me Now"), Madonna ("Crazy For You") and Michael Jackson ("Human Nature"). In 1969, he and friends Richard and Karen started the band The Carpenters, for which Bettis wrote "Top of the World," "Yesterday Once More," "Goodbye to Love," and many others. This is his third theatrical stage collaboration with Steve Dorff.