Toga Party on Broadway! "Animal House" Being Made Into Stage Musical
By Kenneth Jones
If the sour and intolerant Dean Wormer of the hit film comedy "Animal House" sang a song, what might it sound like? Probably something like a Barenaked Ladies pop song, if Broadway producers have their way.
"National Lampoon's Animal House," the smash 1978 picture that starred John Belushi and Tom Hulce as members of an unruly fraternity house in the 1960s, is being developed as a stage musical to be directed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Elf, Spamalot).
Universal Pictures Stage Productions is working on the show, to feature a score by pop band Barenaked Ladies (known for their hits "If I Had a Million Dollars," "Jane") and a libretto by Michael Mitnick (Second Stage Theatre Uptown's Sex Lives of Our Parents). Expect the film's beer-soaked "toga party" to figure into the plot. (Otis Day and the Knights sing "Shout" as the party's guest band in the picture.)
Hulce, who played a new pledge who loses his virginity in the John Landis-directed film, has since gone on to become a Tony Award-winning Broadway producer (Spring Awakening, American Idiot, On a Clear Day…). As a young actor, Hulce was an understudy in the original Broadway run of Equus, and later starred in Broadway's A Few Good Men, for which he was a 1990 Tony Award nominee. Hulce played Mozart in the film "Amadeus," earning an Oscar nomination as Best Actor in a Leading Role.
"Animal House" also featured Tim Matheson, Kevin Bacon, Stephen Furst, Peter Riegert, Karen Allen, Bruce McGill and John Vernon as Dean Wormer. Elmer Bernstein (How Now, Dow Jones) wrote the film score, using serious dramatic music to underscore wildly comic moments (it was considered inventive at the time). Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney and Chris Miller wrote the screenplay.
The commercial producers connected to the musical project are Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel (Porgy and Bess) and James L. Nederlander. Matty Simmons, founding publisher of National Lampoon magazine, is executive producer of the project.
News of the development of the show was first reported in the New York Times.
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