Sater Discusses Bacharach Musical, Spring Awakening Film and More

News   Sater Discusses Bacharach Musical, Spring Awakening Film and More Playwright Steven Sater is having a busy summer. The Tony Award-winning book writer and lyricist of Spring Awakening gave Playbill.com some updates on his collaborations with Duncan Sheik, Burt Bacharach and a new film adaptation of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."

Steven Sater
Steven Sater Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The Sater-Sheik musical The Nightingale, based on the Hans Christian Anderson tale, received a recent New York workshop under the direction of Tony Award nominee Moisés Kaufman. The cast included Aaron Tveit (Catch Me If You Can, Next to Normal), Malcolm Gets (The Story of My Life) and Eisa Davis (Passing Strange). "It was quiet – it was just for us and for our producers," Sater said. Another workshop of the intimate musical could take wing this fall.

Sater is also busy with Grammy-winning pop songwriter Burt Bacharach on a new romantic musical. "We have five new songs and we only needed two or three, but we just kept writing," Sater explained. Spring Awakening veteran Kyle Riabko flew to Los Angeles to record a demo of the tuner that Sater describes as "a love story about the sacrifices we make for love. Four actors play two characters and we track that love story of those two young people over twenty-some odd years."

Original Spring Awakening cast members and "Glee" stars Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff appeared in earlier readings of the musical. "I hope they'll be able to do it, but Lea's schedule is packed," Sater said regarding the show's future. Michele also premiered "Some Lovers" from the tuner in one of her recent concerts.

Sater's film projects include the screen adaptation of Spring Awakening, which he hopes to begin casting late this summer and begin filming in March 2011. "Years ago when we were first casting Spring Awakening [in New York], we had a cast of 14-year-olds and a cast of 17 and 18-year-olds. And, we went with the older cast. In a certain way the same issue arises for the movie. Figuring out what age [is key]." He explained that casting for the film will be an international process.

Also on his plate is a film remake of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," which is aiming for a 2012 arrival. Sater said the film will be a "big 3-D musical. There's so much that's being designed for the movie that it's almost along the schedule for an animated movie, though it isn't. "I've done so much to the original story and transformed it. It's been a joy. For me it's about how we are taking childhood away from our children. It will bring back the style and feel of the old 1940's musicals with Busby Berkeley-type sequences. In Vulgaria, it won't be just a castle, I'm creating a whole new world. It's going to take you new places."

He also explained that the film would root "the journey in the character, kind of in the same way the story is rooted in Dorothy's character in 'The Wizard of Oz.'"

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