David Bell, the director-choreographer behind Hot Mikado, Actor, Lawyer Indian Chief and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's recent, lauded staging of The Comedy of Errors, is developing a new musical, in England, about the early days of the film-making Warner brothers.
The emergent show, Hollywood Be Thy Name, has an original score by lyricist-director Bell and composer Henry Marsh, and a libretto by Hollywood writer Cynthia Whitcomb, drawing on the book of the same name by Harry Warner's granddaughter, Cass Warner.
"We may be interpolating a Jolson tune or two into it," Bell told Playbill On-Line. "The musical is focused on the earlier years of the Warner Brothers up to and including the opening of 'The Jazz Singer,' with glimpses of the brothers at the end of their careers."
Bell has been working on the piece in the Cotswolds, in England.
Meanwhile, Actor, Lawyer, Indian Chief, Bell's collaboration with composer-lyricist Craig Carnelia, is being retitled Cowboy Waltz and is expected to emerge in another American regional production (or perhaps New York) in the coming season, following the recent Goodspeed Musicals staging in Connecticut. Sandy Faison is lead producer on that show. Bell has ties in England, and is known as a reliable American director there. He's also working on a British revival of Theatre of Dreams, a musical about Matt Busby and the Manchester United Football team.
— By Kenneth Jones