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Lestat Will Sing at Broadway's Palace Starting March 11, 2006

Lestat, the new Elton John-Bernie Taupin musical about the famous Anne Rice vampire, has found a home on Broadway — the Palace Theatre.Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures announced that following its world premiere in San Francisco in late 2005, Lestat would begin Broadway previews March 11, 2006, toward an April 13 opening. The musical All Shook Up played its final performance at the venue Sept. 25.

Lestat will play the Curran Theatre in San Francisco Dec. 17, 2005-Jan. 29, 2006.

The lush and romantic Lestat will star Hugh Panaro in the title role, with Carolee Carmello, Jack Noseworthy, Jim Stanek, Roderick Hill, Michael Genet and Allison Fischer.

The musical inspired by the vampire characters of novelist Anne Rice is the inaugural Broadway production of Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures (Gregg Maday, executive vice president). The musical has a book by Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast, Aida), lyrics by Taupin and music by John (The Lion King, Aida, Billy Elliott). Robert Jess Roth (Beauty and the Beast) directs. Matt West (Beauty and the Beast) will create musical staging. John and Taupin's pop songs from the 1970s are beloved by a generation. This is their first stage score.

According to the producers, and as previously announced, "Lestat, Anne Rice's most celebrated and beloved literary character…" The musical "is the romantic and heartbreaking story of the extraordinary journey of one man who escapes the tyranny of his oppressive family only to have his life taken from him. Thrust into the seductive and sensual world of an immortal vampire, Lestat sets out on a road of adventures in a quest for everlasting love and companionship but is forced to reconcile his innate sense of good with his primal need to exist."

Lestat's cast of 16 features Rachel Coloff, Nikki Renee Daniels, Joseph Dellger, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Megan Reinking, Drew Sarich, Will Swenson Steve Wilson and Tommar Wilson.

The creative team in includes scenic designer Derek McLane, costume designer Susan Hilferty, lighting designer Kenneth Posner, sound designer Jonathan Deans, visual concept designer David McKean, and hair designer Tom Watson.

Lestat has orchestrations by Steve Margoshes and Guy Babylon, with musical supervision by Guy Babylon, musical direction by Brad Haak, and vocal arrangements by Todd Ellison.

"This musical is the fulfillment of my deepest dreams," said author Anne Rice, in a statement. "Elton's music and Bernie's lyrics have captured the pain and the passion of the characters perfectly, and the entire adaptation has re-created the very essence of the books. Working with the whole team -— Rob Roth, Linda Woolverton, and of course Elton and Bernie — has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire career. The talent, the brilliance, and the generosity of these folks is beyond belief. I'm humbled; I'm grateful; and I'm so excited that I can hardly stand it. Lestat, Louis and Claudia are about to be reborn."

"'Interview with the Vampire' is one of my favorite books and Anne Rice is one of my favorite authors," stated composer John. "Lestat is the first stage musical that I've written with Bernie which makes it even more special for me."

"Anne had always loved the idea of seeing her 'Vampire Chronicles' set in some sort of serious and seductive musical setting and for all of the parties involved this is the opportunity of a lifetime," stated lyricist Taupin. "Elton and I have threatened for years to work together on something for Broadway but until now had never found anything that appealed to both of us collectively or suited my own personal writing style. We have unified these books into a linear storyline and our intention is to make a stylish, sexy, intelligent and richly hypnotic show that is stripped of gothic clichés and that shows the vampire dealing with his damnation on a more realistic and human level. Please let me make this clear this is not a rock opera."

For fans of the books, the character breakdown is Carmello (Mamma Mia!, Parade) as Gabrielle, Noseworthy (Sweet Smell of Success) as Armand, Jim Stanek as Louis, Roderick Hill as Nicolas, Michael Genet as Marius and Allison Fischer as Claudia.

Hugh Panaro made his Broadway debut in Les Misérables as Marius, the role he originated in the first national company. He created the roles of Buddy in Side Show, Julian in Jules Styne's The Red Shoes, and the title role in the American premiere of Martin Guerre. He made his West End debut in the original London company of Harold Prince's Show Boat as Ravenal, the role he played on Broadway and in Toronto. Panaro is one of the few actors to play both Raoul (1991) and the Phantom (currently) in the Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera.

The Broadway playing schedule for Lestat during previews will be Monday through Saturday at 8 PM, with matinees Saturday at 2 PM. Additionally there will be 2 PM matinees on Wednesday March 29, April 5 and April 12.

The regular playing schedule for Lestat beginning Tuesday April 18, 2006, will be Tuesday at 7 PM, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 PM, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM and Sunday at 3 PM.

Tickets range from $65 to $100, and can be purchased through Ticketmaster.com at (212) 307-4100, beginning Nov. 13, 2005.

By Kenneth Jones, Playbill

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Tough act to follow
After boffo year, 'Tarzan,' Julia Roberts and 'Couple' hope to lead season's B'way pack

Looking for the 800-pound gorillas in the 2005-06 Broadway season? Safe money's on the man raised by apes, a pair of fractious roommates and America's sweetheart.

Disney's "Tarzan," a revival of "The Odd Couple" headlined by Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, and Rialto debut of Julia Roberts in "Three Days of Rain" look to be the major events on the Great White Way. But where are the other contenders for box office glory?

Last season will be a tough act to follow, with four breakout successes among the crop of new musicals, and with "Doubt" providing an example of that increasingly rare species, the straight-play smash.

New season got off to a feeble start as the planned August opener "The Mambo Kings" vaporized during its ill-received San Francisco tryout, while the Yoko-centric biomusical "Lennon" got a tepid response and shuttered Sept. 24.

The massive $19 million advance for "Odd Couple" has provided a healthy shot of commercial adrenaline, hitched to the steady performance of an unusually robust crop of summer holdovers.

Joe Mantello, hoping to continue his unbroken hot streak, directs the reteaming of "The Producers" duo Lane and Broderick in the roles of an unapologetic schlub and his fastidious pal. Show is one of two Neil Simon revivals this season, along with "Barefoot in the Park" in the spring.

Factor in Manhattan Theater Club's October opening of Alan Ayckbourn's "Absurd Person Singular" and that adds up to the return of popular comedies to Broadway after a number of thin seasons.

Following stellar revivals of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "Glengarry Glen Ross," along with a pair of muddled Tennessee Williams remounts, this season has only two revisitations of more challenging texts: Roundabout will stage Eugene O'Neill's "A Touch of the Poet" at Studio 54, with Gabriel Byrne directed by Doug Hughes ("Doubt"), while Lincoln Center has Edward Albee's "Seascape" at the Booth, putting together a human couple and a pair of reptiles.

First up among the season's new works is Richard Greenberg's "A Naked Girl on the Appian Way," one of two productions (the other is "Barefoot") that herald the return of Jill Clayburgh to Broadway after a two-decade absence. The tireless Hughes directs.

But it's the commercial forecast for Greenberg's second Broadway outing of the season, his 1998 play "Three Days of Rain," that looks especially bright. Even as Hollywood faces show up with increasing regularity on the boards, Broadway rarely sees the kind of megawattage that Roberts brings, with perfs starting in March.

Other new plays on the schedule include, from MTC, David Lindsay-Abaire's "Rabbit Hole" starring Cynthia Nixon, and an import from Britain's National Theater, Alan Bennett's "The History Boys," transferring with all but one of its original ensemble intact.

After plans for a commercial run of Conor McPherson's "The Shining City" fell apart over the summer, MTC rescued the Irish import by giving it a spring slot at the Biltmore. McPherson, who was set to direct the aborted production, may or may not helm the show this time around.

The Broadway plans of another Brit pickup, Rufus Norris' striking staging of the Scandinavian family mudslinging match "Festen," have long been in limbo. But that production reportedly is coming together for an early spring berth.

New tuners will try to make headway in a field still crowded by last season's successes still running strong.

Chief among the newbies is Disney's first show in five years, "Tarzan," promising high-flying, vine-swinging spectacle (courtesy of De La Guarda co-founder Pichon Baldinu) plus more of the jungle exotica that made "The Lion King" an international franchise, this time set to Phil Collins' music.

Alice Walker's novel (and Steven Spielberg's film) gets musicalized when "The Color Purple" opens in December. LaChanze ("Once on This Island") takes the leading role of Celie.

Another page-to-stage adaptation, "Lestat," will attempt to break the bloodsucker's curse of "Dance of the Vampires" and "Dracula," which were greeted by cloves of garlic from critics before ticketbuyers drove stakes through their hearts. Based on Anne Rice's "Interview With the Vampire" and its sequel, "Lestat" is the first Broadway venture for Warners' new legit division.

"The Wedding Singer" joins the band in April as the latest film to undergo musicalization treatment, shepherded by the producing muscle behind "Hairspray," Margo Lion and New Line Cinema.

In "Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life," the Broadway diva will recap her career, with the aid of book writer Terrence McNally and a team of backup hoofers. The show has generated strong word of mouth from pundits during its preview run at the Old Globe in San Diego.

Andrew Lloyd Webber will attempt to elevate his fallen Broadway stock with his reimagining of Wilkie Collins' "The Woman in White," which has reportedly undergone significant retooling since its West End bow. The lush mystery uses scenic projections more extensively than any mainstream show to date..

After the critical mauling given short-lived Beach Boys tuner "Good Vibrations" and the general snubbing of Elvis-inspired "All Shook Up," which was to shutter Sept. 25, "Jersey Boys" will attempt to give legitimacy to the jukebox show with a biomusical retracing the paths of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

Further down the pipeline, Twyla Tharp will follow her soon-to-close Billy Joel dance piece, "Movin' Out," with "The Times They Are A-Changin'." Based on the songs of Bob Dylan, the show premieres at the Old Globe in spring, en route to Broadway.

"Princesses," the latest from Andrew Lippa ("The Wild Party"), waits in the wings for a theater to open up. The musical-within-a-musical, about prep school girls who put on a show, got a tune-up during its tryout in Seattle this summer.

While not strictly a musical, "Souvenir" features Judy Kaye trilling tunelessly as Florence Foster Jenkins, a tone-deaf society matron famed for her inept public performances. The show had a well-received Off Broadway run last season at the York.

Every season needs a critical punching bag, and this one scored early with Suzanne Somers' "The Blonde in the Thunderbird" in July. Cynics are predicting competition from "In My Life," a musical by Joe Brooks. The lemon motif emblazoned over its marketing material appears to be daring the critics.

Musical revivals have had an increasingly hard time recouping in recent seasons, which accounts for the underpopulated category come Tony time. Last season, only three shows were eligible, and this go-round looks to be the same.

First up is Brit director John Doyle's reimagining of Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd," with the small cast doubling as the orchestra. Michael Cerveris will strum guitar while slashing throats as the demon barber; his murderous accomplice, Mrs. Lovett, brings Patti LuPone back to Broadway, this time honking a tuba.

Harry Connick Jr. stars in the Kathleen Marshall-directed redo of "The Pajama Game" for Roundabout, while the same company is readying Wallace Shawn's new adaptation of Brecht-Weil's "The Threepenny Opera," with Alan Cumming, Edie Falco and pop star Nellie McKay.


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Barbers, bloodsuckers & sluts
Among the new season’s highlights: Chita Rivera, ‘The Color Purple’ and a new work from Sarah Schulman

There’s not a lot of gay content on the big boards this season, but plenty of our favorite writers and performers are represented in the new theater season.

Edward Albee has a revival of one of his lesser plays, Sondheim is represented by a revival of “Sweeney Todd” and Chita Rivera and Elaine Strich return. Tony Kushner refurbishes a World War II opera and, of course, the buzz has already started over a few big musicals: “The Color Purple,” “Grey Gardens,” and a musical adaptation of Anne Rice’s “The Vampire Lestat.”

Now playing
“Miracle Brothers”: Tyler Maynard, who played the gay, gay, gay boy-band member in “Altar Boyz,” cuts his teeth in a serious role in Kirsten Child’s new musical. Vineyard Theater, 108 E. 15th St. www.vineyardtheater.org.

“Dr. Sex”: Like the recent biopic starring Liam Neeson, the show concentrates on the love triangle between Dr. Alfred Kinsey, has wife and male lab assistant. Peter Norton Space, 555 W. 42 St, www.drxthemusical.com.

“The Great American Trailer Park Musical”: White trash can sing? Characters include a stripper on the run, an agoraphobe and a tollbooth collector. Dodger Stages, 340 West 50th St., www.dodgerstages.com.

“Elaine Stritch at Home at the Carlyle”: The recent Tony recipient returns to the stage with a cabaret production featuring songs by Jerry Herrmann and Stephen Sondheim. Café Carlyle, Madison Avenue at 78th Street. www.thecarlyle.com.

“Slut”: A hit at the Fringe Fest, the play involves a single (straight) guy looking for sex. His sidekick, Dr. Dan, may or may not be a threat to his ambitions. American Theater of Actors, 314 W. 54th St. www.slutthemusical.com. Oct. 1.

“A Naked Girl on the Appian Way”: The new offering from Tony-winner Richard Greenberg (“Take Me Out”) stars Jill Clayburgh as a successful cookbook author whose kids return from a year in Europe with unexpected news. Roundabout Theatre Company, American Airlines Theatre, 227 West 42nd St. Oct. 6.

“The Odd Couple”: The show with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick has already sold out its 26-week run and amassed a $20 million advance. Good luck finding tickets. Brooks Atkinson Theater, 256 W. 47th St. Oct. 27.

“Manic Flight Reaction”: In Sarah Schulman’s new play, a middle-aged professor is embarrassed when her daughter discovers she’s having an affair with the wife of a presidential candidate. Peter Jay Sharp Theater, Playwright’s Horizon, 416 W. 42nd St. www.playwrightshorizon.com. Oct. 30.

“Sweeney Todd”: This intimate version of the Sondheim show was a smash hit at London’s West End. The tale of the “demon barber” has been recast for Broadway and features Patti Lupone and Micheal Cerveris. Eugene O’Neill Theatre, 230 W. 49th St. www.eugene-oneill-theater.com. Nov. 3.

“Miss Witherspoon”: Christopher Durang is back with a new comedy about a woman who committed suicide and refuses to be reincarnated. The play is set in Limbo, where Durang says he did most of his research. Mainstage Theater, Playwrights Horizon, 416 West 42nd St. www.playwrightshorizons.org. Nov. 11.

“Seascape”: Edward Albee’s play flopped in its initial production but went on to win a Pulitzer in 1975. It’s about two talking lizards who meet a bickering couple along the beach. Booth Theater, 222 W. 45th St. www.lct.org. Nov. 21.

“The Color Purple”: Alice Walker’s Pulitzer-winning novel has been transferred to the stage, with its heavy lesbian overtones intact. LaChanze resumes the role of Celie, which she played in the Atlanta premiere. Broadway newcomer Elistabeth Withers plays juke-joint queen Shug Avery. Broadway Theater, 1681 Broadway. www.colorpurple.com. Dec. 1.

“Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life”: The stage legend appears in a show written by Terrence McNally that features many of her signature numbers. The star also tells backstage tales and leads a 10-member cast. Gerald Schoenfeld Theater, 236 W. 45th St. Dec. 11.

“Grey Gardens: A New Musical”: Audiences apparently never tire of watching the antics of two of Jacqueline Kennedy’s eccentric relatives. www.playwrightshorizons.org. Feb. 26.

“A Safe Harbor for Elizabeth Bishop”: Marta Góes’ penned this solo show dealing with the love affair between the poet Bishop and Lota Macedo Soares. Amy Irving stars. 59E59 Theaters, 59 E. 59th St. www.primarystages.com. April 4.

“Brundibar and Comedy on the Bridge”: Tony Kushner and Maurice Sendak present two refurbished operas from the WWII era. New Victory Theater, 209 West 43rd St. www.newvictory.org. April 28.

“Lestat”: Elton John and his constant muse Bernie Taupin collaborated on this musical adaptation of Anne Rice’s much-loved (and ambiguously gay) vampire characters, starring Hugh Panaro as the undead rock star. Theater and opening date to be announced.

Gerard Robinson, New York Blade

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Fast Lane To Broadway Begins In Hollywood

It's an eternal conundrum. You want to see a movie, but your date wants to see a show. Well, today's Broadway allows you to split the difference: nearly half of Broadway's 20 musicals were drawn from films, including two of last season's hits, "Monty Python's Spamalot" and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and such long-running successes as "The Producers," "Hairspray," "The Lion King" and "Beauty and the Beast." (Now, if they'd just let you buy some popcorn. ...)

Broadway has been stealing ideas from Hollywood for as long as anyone can remember. But business changes on Broadway and in Hollywood, combined with an increasingly risk-averse theater industry, have pushed this longtime trend to a new level, as producers now try to turn dozens of films into musicals. From "Blade Runner" (itself based on a novel) to "Batman" (based on a comic book series), no movie seems too bizarre to adapt.

"The two-way traffic between New York and Hollywood has been a fact of life since Hollywood was invented," said Jed Bernstein, the president of the League of American Theaters and Producers, a trade group. "But the traffic has really intensified in the last five years."

On tap for the 2005-6 season, is "The Wedding Singer" and "Tarzan," along with "The Color Purple," which is drawn from both Alice Walker's book and the 1985 film, and possibly "Princesses," loosely based on the Victorian novel and 1995 movie "A Little Princess."

Some critics, of course, view the "movical," as some people call it, as another sign of the creative bankruptcy of Broadway, a cynical mix of commerce, marketing and a splash of art used to sell more DVD's than uplift audiences. The composer Michael John LaChiusa recently sparked a sharp-elbowed debate about movie-inspired shows, published in Opera News, calling many of them "faux musicals" that don't "aspire to be the next 'West Side Story,' " but merely go through the paces (which, of course, were outlined in the films). Other producers often quietly laugh at the ideas for other adaptations.

But those critiques come at a time when the movical game is only gaining more and more steam, in part because studios have become more aggressive about shopping and packaging their catalogs to prospective producers. One of the main reasons for the boom, it seems, is simple: Disney. In the 1990's, Disney proved - decisively - that stage versions of animated films could bring in the families (and tourists, and locals, and everybody else). Between them, "The Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King" have grossed $3.3 billion worldwide. (The combined estimated box office of the films, meanwhile, is a measly $1.16 billion, according to Box Office Mojo, a Web site that tracks box-office receipts.) And that's before T-shirts, CD's and souvenir books.

"This is not a small business," said Thomas Schumacher, the president of Disney Theatricals, which employs about 100 people. "There are two Disney shows on Broadway, but there are 16 companies playing around the world."

And there will soon be more. "Tarzan," scheduled for the spring, is a Disney property, as is "Mary Poppins," which is likely to land on Broadway during the 2006-7 season. The stage version of "The Little Mermaid" is also in the works. "Mary Poppins," which opened in London last year, is co-produced by Cameron Mackintosh, who tried a musical of "Witches of Eastwick" in London a couple years back.

Now, other film companies seem to be following Disney's lead. In 2003, Warner Brothers, part of Time Warner, set up its own theatrical production division, Warner Brothers Theater Ventures, which will make its debut next spring with "Lestat," with a score by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The musical is based on Anne Rice's vampire books and features the character in the 1994 movie "Interview With a Vampire." DreamWorks also has their first project in the works: "Shrek," for which they have signed as producer Sam Mendes, the acclaimed director.

Smaller companies are also getting in on the action. Working Title Films, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Universal, has been deeply involved in the development of "Billy Elliott," the musical version of the 2000 boy ballet movie, which is a hit in London and is expected to come to Broadway. (Universal is also a partner in "Wicked," the "Wizard of Oz" prequel, which is printing money on Broadway and the road.) And Harvey Weinstein, New York's own hometown movie mogul, has invested in nearly a dozen Broadway shows over the last five years; can a musical rendition of "Reservoir Dogs" be far behind?

The studios also undoubtedly took note when "The Producers" and "Hairspray" - both cult hits collecting dust in studio catalogs - became huge hits. Margo Lion, for example, the producer of "Hairspray," says that she was approached last year by New Line Cinema, which produced the original movie and was a major investor in the Broadway version, with four more titles they thought might make good musicals. (She chose "Wedding Singer," the 1998 Adam Sandler hit, which is scheduled for this spring.)

But while some companies have taken an active hand in making their shows, most still defer to those with ample Broadway producing experience. MGM established MGM On Stage in 2002 to help license and develop its titles as potential musicals, a strategy that has already resulted in two current Broadway shows - "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."

"We're delighted," said Darcie Denkert, the president of MGM On Stage. "We always believed the MGM catalog to be a treasure trove."

The list goes on: according to Ms. Denkert, MGM has either optioned, is negotiating to option or is developing about 30 titles, most as musicals, including two Pink Panther movies; "Get Shorty," the 1995 John Travolta hit; and the most famous dead-boss movie of all time. That's right, it's "Weekend at Bernie's," the musical.

Gregg Maday, the executive vice president of Warner Brothers Theater Ventures, says that he has leaned heavily on experienced Broadway players like Alan Wasser, a veteran general manager, and SpotCo, one of Broadway's biggest advertising companies.

"There's so much expertise I'm just happy to be around them," said Mr. Maday, who headed to Hollywood after studying theater in college. "There's a lot to be learned."

And while theater producers certainly aren't following Hollywood's economic model - the film business is having a terrible summer, while Broadway is booming - they sure love their stories, no matter how unmusical they might seem. Take Marty Bell, for example, the producer who stewarded the Broadway adaptations of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (which is doing well) and "Sweet Smell of Success" (which wasn't), wants to make a musical out of "Network," the 1976 Paddy Chayefsky satire about the television world. "Dr. Zhivago" is in the works, as is the story of another guy with a taste for outerwear: "Batman," who is reportedly getting musicalized by Jim Steinman, who - no kidding - wrote the hit "Bat Out of Hell." Even documentaries are getting the song-and-dance treatment, with "Grey Gardens" at Playwrights Horizons this season.

Of course, musicals have always been based on something else - fiction, plays, historical accounts. "Musicals are traditionally adapted from some underlying source material," Ms. Lion said.

"And as Alan Jay Lerner said, it's hard enough writing a musical without coming up with a story, too," Ms. Lion said, paraphrasing the lyricist and book writer of "My Fair Lady," among a few other shows.

The list of movie-inspired musicals includes some very well-known titles: Stephen Sondheim's "Little Night Music," for instance, based on Ingmar Bergman's "Smiles of a Summer Night," or "Sweet Charity," based on Federico Fellini's "Nights of Cabiria." And nowadays, the argument goes, movies are simply the most reliable channel for good, proven stories.

"When we used to take plays, there were more plays in the culture," Ms. Lion said. "And as writers have moved to film and television, the stories are coming out of Hollywood."

While some cynics may also point out that movies chosen often have known titles - and thus, producers hope, millions of fans - they also say that alone isn't enough to recoup a multimillion-dollar investment.

"A title will only carry me three months, six months if I'm lucky," said the producer Hal Luftig, who is hoping to bring "Legally Blonde," based on the 2001 Reese Witherspoon hit, to Broadway in 2007. "And that's not enough."

Creatively, artists say there is no difference between the craft used to convert a film to the stage and the act of creating a new idea from whole cloth.

"I honestly don't understand why people keeping harping on this," said Marc Shaiman, who won a Tony Award for "Hairspray," along with his lyricist and partner, Scott Wittman. "A great story is a great story."

John Waters, whose movie inspired Mr. Shaiman and Mr. Wittman, seconds that. "I think trashy movies make great musicals because they're more exaggerated and funnier," said Mr. Waters, whose movie "Cry-Baby" is getting the movical treatment for Broadway next fall. "Musicals are about larger-than-life people."

Ms. Lion, in fact, said she felt that "The Wedding Singer," the movie climax of which involves a biker, a beating and Billy Idol, might be a perfect candidate for a musical because it is not an iconic movie. "You don't want to be compared unfavorably to the original," she said.

Adam Epstein, who is working on a version of "Ever After," another Drew Barrymore romance, as well as "Cry-Baby," agreed, saying he was attracted to "stories that people may have a vague familiarity with, but are not necessarily married to."

Falling short of the original has been the pitfall of many musical adaptations, including flops such as "Singin' in the Rain" (1985), "Big" (1996) and "Carrie" (1988). "A lot of these great movies don't lend themselves to becoming musicals," Ms. Lion said. "I mean, you can't do 'Casablanca' as a musical."

Not that the Chinese government isn't trying. Working with Warner Brothers, which owns the rights to the 1942 classic, a state-owned Chinese arts company produced a singing, dancing Bogart last spring (to great success, if the Chinese press is to be believed), which Mr. Maday says may very well land on these shores as a touring show in early 2006.

While classics are always mentioned as possibilities for adaptation, the desire to put recent film hits on stage has also seemingly intensified. Mr. Shaiman and Mr. Wittman, the songwriting team behind "Hairspray," have recently been commissioned to write a musical based on "Catch Me if You Can," the 2002 Steven Spielberg film. (They are also working on "Cat Ballou," a 1965 western that starred Jane Fonda.)

Yet , for all the talk about the invasion of movicals, many of the titles optioned will never make it past the idea phase. The composer Frank Wildhorn ("Jekyll and Hyde," "Dracula, the Musical") said he has been kicking "Blade Runner" for the better part of a decade but hasn't been able to get the rights.

When he does, however, he says he is certain it will work.

"One of the reasons it's so known is that it was a breakthrough film," Mr. Wildhorn said. "There's a lot of messed-up humans and androids in that movie. So there's no shortage of opportunities to write songs."

JESSE McKINLEY, The New York Times

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