"Far From Heaven," Stylish Film Melodrama, Will Be a Musical by Frankel, Korie, Greenberg

By Kenneth Jones
17 Dec 2010

Michael Korie and Scott Frankel
Michael Korie and Scott Frankel
Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Get out your handkerchiefs. Playwrights Horizons has commissioned Grey Gardens songwriters Scott Frankel and Michael Korie, and playwright Richard Greenberg, to create a musical version of the 2002 film "Far From Heaven."

The Todd Haynes picture, full of moody and stylized cinematography, borrows from a tradition of 1950s "weepy" pictures — sentimental or tear-jerking, like the kind made by Douglas Sirk — to tell the story of a '50s housewife whose husband is discovered to be gay. She finds solace in another forbidden love, with a man of color.

The musical is being commissioned by Off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons under the auspices of the Playwrights Horizons Musicals in Partnership Initiative, with funding provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Under the rules of the funding, PH will partner with a regional theatre for a co-production.

The libretto will be by Tony Award winner and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Greenberg (Take Me Out, Three Days of Rain), with music by Tony Award nominee Frankel (Grey Gardens, plus Happiness) and lyrics by Tony Award nominee Korie (Grey Gardens, Happiness, The Grapes of Wrath).



The musical is being adapted from the award-winning 2002 Focus Features/Vulcan Productions motion picture "Far From Heaven," written and directed by Haynes.

According to Playwrights Horizons, Far From Heaven "tells the story of Cathy Whitaker, a 1950s housewife living in suburban Hartford who watches as her seemingly perfect life begin to fall apart. The film echoes 'women's films' of the 1950s (especially those of Douglas Sirk, director of 'All That Heaven Allows" and "Imitation of Life') to tell a story that deals with complex contemporary issues including sexual and racial prejudice."

The original 2002 film starred Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert and Patricia Clarkson. It was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Actress (Julianne Moore), Best Original Screenplay (Todd Haynes), Best Cinematography (Edward Lachman) and Best Original Score (Elmer Bernstein). It was also named Best Film of the Year by the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Independent Spirit Awards and the Village Voice.

The regional theatre producing partner will be announced in future months, along with a director and production timetable.

Playwrights Horizons' history with musicals includes Grey Gardens, James Joyce's The Dead, Floyd Collins, Assassins, Once on This Island and Sunday in the Park with George.