Zippel, Wilder and Steinkellners Anticipate Spring 2004 Reading of Musical Princesses

News   Zippel, Wilder and Steinkellners Anticipate Spring 2004 Reading of Musical Princesses Screenwriters Bill and Cheri Steinkellner, currently finding success with their well-reviewed "Teacher's Pet," the new Disney animated picture, are fresh off a work session with director-lyricist David Zippel on their new musical theatre project, Princesses.

Zippel met the Steinkellners when he was briefly linked (by one meeting) as a potential lyricist on the animated project, "Teacher's Pet." The direction of the movie shifted and Zippel didn't end up on the project. But he liked the Steinkellners' sensibilities so much that he pitched them the idea for Princesses, a contemporary stage musical that references the classic novel-for-girls, "A Little Princess."

As previously reported by Playbill On-Line, the show has music by Matthew Wilder ("Mulan"), book by the Steinkellners (Emmy Award-winning veteran writers of TV's "Frasier") and lyrics by Zippel (City of Angels, "Hercules"). A cutting of the developing show was seen in the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) Festival of New Musicals in September 2003, and there have been refinements since then, Zippel said. A hunky young character has been added, for example, to punctuate the largely female world of the show.

The collaborators' recent work session in Los Angeles was in anticipation of a spring 2004 reading and the hope of a regional production in the near future. Zippel, whose idea sparked the show, will direct the 14-20 character show in the future, he said.

Princesses is a musical within a musical about a group of "seen-it-all, too-hip-for-their-roommates private school girls" who are forced by an enthusiastic teacher to put on a production of Frances Hodgson Burnett's Victorian classic, "A Little Princess."

According to production notes, "At the center of Princesses are two father-daughter stories.  The contemporary story revolves around 16-year-old Miranda Finck and her father, superstar Kevin Finch — once Shakespeare in the Park's lauded Henry IV, now People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive. Miranda feels dumped in the exclusive Reardon School by her jet-setting father after her mother's death.  A 'quality time' visit from Kevin results in his taking charge of the struggling student show with hilarious consequences.  Simultaneously we watch the parallel father-daughter story of 'A Little Princess' unfold as the school production progresses from auditions through rehearsals with both stories resolving onstage on opening night." Lyricist Zippel is a Tony Award-winner for City of Angels and a two-time Oscar nominee ("Hercules," "Mulan"). The Steinkellners produced and wrote seven seasons of "Cheers." Wilder is an Oscar and Grammy nominee who penned the score to Disney's "Mulan" and pop songs for No Doubt, Christina Aguilera, and Kelly Clarkson.

The score contains contemporary pop, sung by the girls, musical comedy numbers and a slightly more traditional sound for the show within a show.

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Tom Wopat, Julie Halston and Jenny Fellner appeared in the 2003 NAMT presentation in New York City.

Composer Andrew Lippa is working with lyricist-librettist Brian Crawley on an unrelated adaptation of the novel, "A Little Princess."