Walter Bobbie, who won the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critic's Circle Awards for his direction of Chicago and staged Compleat Female Stage Beauty for the Philadelphia Theatre Company last fall, is helping adapt the dark-hearted film, "A Face in the Crowd," into a Broadway musical. Penning the songs is country music writer Don Schlitz, who made his Broadway debut with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer this past season.
As reported by the New York Post, producers Barry and Fran Weissler (of National Artists) are behind the new adaptation, which had a private reading for about 30 people June 26. Damn Yankees' and The Rocky Horror Show's Jarrod Emick read the lead role, a country singer being marketed as a homespun idol, even though he's actually a fascist jerk. A quite un-Mayberry Andy Griffith starred in the 1957 Elia Kazan movie.
Asked by the Post about Bobbie's adaptation, Budd Schulberg, who wrote the original screenplay, said, "It's very faithful to the original, which of course pleased me... Walter Bobbie feels that a cynical musical can work on Broadway today. And I must say, I think the theme still works, especially when we have presidential candidates attacking big government and espousing phony populism."
Bobbie's last adapting-directing effort was the quite un-cynical musical Footloose. Honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers as ASCAP's Country Songwriter of the Year for four consecutive years (1989-1991), Schlitz has written fifty Top Ten hits, among them an astounding twenty four Number One songs- including the Grammy winning classic, "The Gambler."
Schlitz's spokesperson, Charles Flood, confirmed his client's involvement with the project but told Playbill On-Line (July 2) the show had no immediate plans and was still "in the infant stage." — By David Lefkowitz