Alan Menken Exits Broadway-Bound Roy Rogers Musical; T. Bone Burnett Joins Team

News   Alan Menken Exits Broadway-Bound Roy Rogers Musical; T. Bone Burnett Joins Team
Oscar and Grammy-winning country songwriter T. Bone Burnett has replaced Broadway's Alan Menken and Glenn Slater as songwriter on Happy Trails, the musical about the life of the iconic Hollywood singing cowboy Roy Rogers and his wife Dale Evans, that has been in development for Broadway.

A "scheduling conflict" for the busy Menken and Slater was cited as the reason for the switch.

The show would mark the prolific Burnett's Broadway debut. The closest he came to The Great White Way previously was as producer for friend and fellow Texan Betty Buckley's 2014 album, "Ghostlight."

Academy Award winner Marshall Brickman ("Annie Hall," "Manhattan," Jersey Boys, The Addams Family) is still in the saddle as librettist for the musical that will trace the lives and careers of Rogers and Evans, whose fame spanned radio, film and television. Tony Award-winning director Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys, Big River, Tommy) will still helm the musical.

T. Bone Burnett
T. Bone Burnett

Neither a timeline nor a theatre for Happy Trails has been announced.

Additional creative team members and star casting, along with the roles of "Trigger, Smartest Horse in the Movies and Bullet The Wonder Dog," will be announced in the coming months, according to representatives. "The story of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans is deeply emotional with all kinds of surprising twists and turns," McAnuff said previously. "It's an inspirational part of American history that is ideally suited to the times we live in as an elixir for all that ails us. It dusts off old fashioned kindness and human decency in a way that I believe audiences will find magnetically compelling. It is also a great vehicle for a Broadway production as it has the spectacle of a Hollywood western along with a brainy German Shepherd and the smartest horse in the world. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to stage this extraordinary musical and partner with this all-star team of creators."

Larry G. Spangler and The Spangler Group produce Happy Trails.

"Not only is T Bone a brilliant musical jack-of-all-trades," said producer Larry Spangler, "but he’s also—like Dale Evans was—a Texan through-and-through. He totally embodies that indefinable spirit of the American West with which Roy and Dale were synonymous."

Burnett and collaborator Ryan Bingham won the 2010 Oscar for Best Original Song for "The Weary Kind" from "Crazy Heart." Joseph Henry "T Bone" Burnett has credits as a composer; performer; film, record, and concert producer; record company owner; and artists’ advocate. Born in St. Louis, MO, Burnett grew up in Fort Worth, TX, where he first began writing songs and making records. Burnett was traveling the country as a freelance record producer when he was asked by Bob Dylan to play guitar in his band on the Rolling Thunder Revue tour leading Burnett to form the Alpha Band with David Mansfield and Steven Soles. Burnett made three albums with the group before making a string of solo records in the 1980’s at the end of which, he began to work in film, beginning with Roy Orbison’s "A Black and White Night."

In addition to his Oscar, Burnett is a Golden Globe winner and 13-time Grammy Award winner. His first major foray into film was his collaboration with the Coen Brothers on "The Big Lebowski," and he has since held multiple titles for numerous films including "The Hunger Games," "Cold Mountain" and "The Hunger Games," and he produced the songs for and scored "Walk The Line," "The Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood" and "Crazy Heart," which he also produced.

As for the subject of their show, producers said, "Roy Rogers was one of the most visible stars of his era, making a significant impact across all media: film, radio, TV, and recordings – even selling over 150 million comic books to multiple generations of avid fans. Between 1945 and 1975, he starred in 88 films, seen by an estimated 80 million people a year. His British fan club boasted over 90,000 members. The top rated 'Roy Rogers TV Show' aired 100 episodes and his image was featured on over 2.5 billion boxes of Post Cereal. His journey - from an impoverished childhood in Ohio to an unlikely reign as one of Hollywood's most popular stars; the poignant and inspiring story of the family he and Dale raised, their endurance, faith and humor in the face of almost impossible obstacles – and how Trigger got to be the only horse in Hollywood ever to be billed above the title—would be a highly improbable tale if it weren’t all true."

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