Zanna, Don't!, Pop Musical About High School Love, Is Now Licensable

News   Zanna, Don't!, Pop Musical About High School Love, Is Now Licensable Whatever happened to the funky Off-Broadway musical Zanna, Don't!, the gay-friendly high-school-set show that spawned a cast album and once had its eye on Broadway?
Jai Rodriguez as the title character in Zanna, Don't!
Jai Rodriguez as the title character in Zanna, Don't! Photo by Joan Marcus

While a plan for a Broadway run has yet to materialize, the cult hit 2002-03 show by composer-lyricist-librettist Tim Acito is now in the catalog of Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW), the publishing/licensing outfit that hopes to give life to viable plays and musicals that had promising starts but didn't reach smash status.

Theatrical Rights Worldwide offers scripts for amateur and professional productions.

TRW bills the show this way: "Zanna, Don't! is a musical comedy about two mismatched teens: hunky football quarterback Steve Bookman and academic over-achiever Kate Aspero, who fall hopelessly in love. Trouble is, everyone in the wholesome Midwestern town of Heartsville happens to be gay, and when Kate and Steve are shockingly 'outed' as being straight, the world will never be the same again."

The social satire with heart boasts a score that flirts with funk, rock, pop, classic musical theatre, country and more.

Recent and upcoming TRW-sparked productions of Zanna, Don't! include the SpeakEasy Stage in Boston, Orlando Youth Theatre and Columbia University, and several others. Plans are afoot for a run in London, the company reported. Zanna, Don't! premiered Off-Off-Broadway at the Kirk Theatre, produced by the nonprofit Amas Musical Theatre, in fall 2002. It transferred to a commercial run at the John Houseman Theatre in spring 2003, produced by Jack M. Dalgleish in association with Stephanie A. Joel, and starring Jai Rodriguez (Bravo TV's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy") in the title role.

The Off-Broadway production received four Drama Desk Award nominations, including Best Musical; an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical; and three Lucille Lortel Award nominations, winning the prize for Outstanding Musical.

Dalgleish previously told Playbill.com he hoped to move the show to Broadway following planned changes to the script, score and production. The small cast size (eight performers, which forced creative doubling and tripling of roles that became part of the show's quirky charm) was to be expanded for a Broadway run.

The last reported hope for a commercial bow was in 2005, when the producers were aiming for a Broadway start of 2006.

The TRW licensed version is the original 2003 Off-Broadway incarnation, which reflected changes since its 2002 developmental 99-seat test run by AMAS.

A 2003 cast album by PS Classics remains a popular title, the label's co-founder told Playbill.com. Visit www.psclassics.com for more information.

Not based on source material, the original pop fairy-tale style show has additional book and lyrics by Alexander Dinelaris and orchestrations and arrangements by Edward G. Robinson.

Zanna, Don't! ended Off-Broadway June 29, 2003, after 17 previews and 119 performances. Devanand Janki directed and choreographed. The cast included Rodriguez (as Zanna) with Anika Larsen, Darius Nichols, Amanda Ryan Paige, Enrico Rodriguez, Rob Sapp, Shelley Thomas, Gregory Treco, Jasmin Walker, Dana Steer and Jared Zeus.

Tim Acito's musical The Women of Brewster Place will premiere in 2007-08 in a co-production by Alliance Theatre and Arena Stage. In 2002, lyricist-librettist-composer Acito was a new voice in the musical theatre landscape with his brightly colored show about romances in a high school where gay is straight and where straight kids are shunned. The title character is a magical matchmaker with a wand that directs him to those who ought to be in love.

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Featuring a catalog of musical theatre properties originating from Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatres, community theatre and beyond, "the goal of Theatrical Rights Worldwide is to provide innovative products and licensing strategies aimed at enhancing the overall value and experience of stock and amateur theatrical productions," according to TRW, which was launched in 2006. "With an array of new licensing strategies and a state-of-the-art, user-friendly online catalog, Theatrical Rights Worldwide represents 'musicals for every audience.'"

TRW's president and CEO Steve Spiegel has 28 years of experience in the musical theatre licensing world, having held senior management positions at Music Theatre International and Rodgers & Hammerstein Theatricals, and been a theatrical agent at the William Morris Agency. The TRW senior management team has over 100 years of collective experience in the field.

TRW currently has 29 shows in its catalog, including Ace, All Shook Up, Bare, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, Captains Courageous, Charlotte Sweet, Cinderella, Dauntless Dick Deadeye, Different Fields, Enter the Guardsman, The Flight of the Lawnchair Man, Forbidden Broadway: Greatest Hits, The Girl in the Frame, Go-Go Beach, Studs Terkel's The Good War, I Love You Because, Illyria, In This House, Little Women, Love Comics, Lucky Duck, Nevermore, Nickelodeon's Blue's Clues, Once Upon a Time in New Jersey, Ring of Fire, Romeo & Bernadette, Striking 12 and They Chose Me.

For more information, visit www.TheatricalRights.com, e-mail licensing@theatricalrights.com or call (866) 378-9758 toll-free.