Yeston & Stone's Death Takes a Holiday Musical Gets a Tony Award-Winning New Collaborator

News   Yeston & Stone's Death Takes a Holiday Musical Gets a Tony Award-Winning New Collaborator Thomas Meehan, the Tony Award-winning librettist of Annie, The Producers and Hairspray, is working with Tony-winning composer-lyricist Maury Yeston on the new musical, Death Takes a Holiday, Playbill.com has learned.
Thomas Meehan
Thomas Meehan Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The lush and romantic musical based on the play of the same name was started by Peter Stone and Yeston in recent years. A draft was completed before Stone's death in 2003. Respected craftsman Meehan has been enlisted to continue the shaping that Stone might have done had he lived, according to sources.

Meehan co-wrote the book to The Producers with Mel Brooks, and co-wrote Hairspray with Mark O'Donnell. He also contributed to the book of Bombay Dreams on Broadway.

There is no announced production timeline for the musical, and no announced creative team (beyond the writers).

Yeston is the Tony Award-winning composer-lyricist of Nine, Titanic and Phantom, his internationally popular musical version of "The Phantom of the Opera." He also contributed to the score of Grand Hotel, the Musical.

Stone and Yeston wrote the Tony Award-winning musical, Titanic. Playbill.com first reported about the Death project in 2001. Stone died April 26, 2003, at the age of 73. He won Tony Awards for his books for Titanic, Woman of the Year and 1776. He was one of the leading lights in the small community of writers who know how to shape a musical libretto.

The musical Death Takes a Holiday is based on the 1928 Alberto Cassella play, which appeared on Broadway in 1929, adapted from the original Italian by Walter Ferris. Death tells of the Grim Reaper visiting earth to discover why people are so fearful of him. Or, as Stone once said in a Playbill.com interview, "What can life be that they cling to it so?"

Death then becomes a houseguest at a swanky nobleman's home where an engagement is being celebrated. And that's where he falls in love.

"It's very lush and romantic and amusing in many aspects, even though it deals with a somewhat serious subject," Stone previously told Playbill.com.

There have been movie versions of the property, including a 1934 picture starring Fredric March and "Meet Joe Black" (1998), starring Brad Pitt.

"Each time they remake it," Stone said of the film versions, "it's farther from the original. We're keeping the locale: Italy, just after the first World War. It's a small musical: 10 principals, all of them important, no chorus."

Yeston has been quoted as describing the piece as "an intensely romantic love story, deeply moving and life affirming."

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