Dodger Endemol Theatrical Productions will march out Meredith Willson's The Music Man for a fall 1999 Broadway revival, with choreographer Susan Stroman making her Broadway directorial debut.
Dodgers' press rep Susanne Tighe told Playbill On-Line Jan. 15 the Music Manis a go, with Stroman also choreographing the 1957 slice of Americana. No casting information was available.
Tighe would not comment on a New York Post story that said Steve Martin, Matthew Broderick and Alec Baldwin had been approached to play the plum role of corrupt-but-warm-hearted "boys' band" salesman Prof. Harold Hill, originated on stage and film by Robert Preston.
Stroman is the powerhouse choreographer currently represented in London with dances for Trevor Nunn's Oklahoma! revival. Among her choreographic credits are Steel Pier, Big, Show Boat and Crazy for You.
Set in Iowa circa 1912, The Music Man is one of the rare American musicals whose story is not lifted from pre-existing material, making it a true original, although it does draw on memories, characters and attitudes of Willson's midwestern boyhood. Willson's memoirs include "And There I Stood With My Piccolo." Willson would not have a greater success, although he did write the moderate hit, The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1960), which became a film with Debbie Reynolds; and the flop, Here's Love (1963), based on "Miracle on 34th Street." His Christopher Columbus musical, 1491, closed out of town in San Francisco in 1969.
The Music Man, is rich with Americana (barbershop quartets and Sousa-like parade marches) and now-standard songs such as "76 Trombones," "Ya Got Trouble," "Till There Was You" and "My White Knight." It won the Best Musical Tony Award over West Side Story in 1958. Co-stars Barbara Cook, as Marian the Librarian, and Preston both won Tonys.
The 1980 Michael Kidd-staged revival starring Dick Van Dyke had no staying power at City Center in New York City. It featured Christian Slater as Winthrop and Meg Bussert as Marian.
-- By Kenneth Jones