Via Musicals Bay Area:
First-time theatrical producer Charles Hewitt has announced his plans to mount an all-singing, all-dancing adaptation of Harper Lee's novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird," with the tentative title, "Boo!"
Hewitt says, "I was supposed to read the book back in high school, but I just watched the movie instead and still got a C on my book report that way. But from what I remember about seeing the movie when I was 16, I always thought that it would make a great musical. It has everything: human drama, and intense . . . human drama and lovable, cuddly characters and funny stuff and drama and, and, and action and mystery and, really, when you get down to it, when all is said and done, just good old human drama. And with the current trends in musical theater, I figured the time was right. The time was right to sell this as a high-concept kind of 'Tom Sawyer meets Spring Awakening' kind of thing. You know?"
First-time composer Marisela Eisenstein is excited about being attached to the project. Eisenstein, 22, says, "This is, like, mad cool. I've never actually written a song before? But my friend Julie has 'Songsmith' installed on her laptop, she says it's, like, really easy to use, and she'll teach me how to use it. She said I could totally borrow it from her."
The book and the lyrics are being written by Christopher St. Clair, whose most recent play, "I Once Killed a Man Just to Watch Him Die," was a lighthearted comic romp based loosely on "Crime and Punishment." The play was reviewed by several critics.
St. Clair says that he has written several songs already, including "He Done It! He Hit Me!", "Reading to Mrs. Dubose," "Rabid Dog Tango" and the show-stopping eleven o' clock number, "Bob Ewell's Lying Up There Under a Tree with a Knife Stuck Up Under His Ribs."
St. Clair spoke about the challenges of adapting the Pulitzer Prize winning novel. "It's an okay book, I guess. But it really needs some zazzing up. So we're expanding Calpurnia's role so that she's secretly a gospel singing star at night, and we're going to make Atticus more of a lovable goof, a kind of Gomer-Pyle-type character. And regarding Boo Radley, let me just give you this little hint: Think 'Shrek meets Mel Brooks.'
"And, while I don't want to give away any of the major plot points, let's just say I always thought it was kind of a downer that Tom Robinson was found guilty. I mean, it's such a blatant miscarriage of justice, and it just, like, totally brought me down, and that's just not what musicals are for, you know? And rape is such an ugly subject, we might just have to tone that down and make it, like, Tom Robinson borrowed the Ewell's lawn mower and forgot to give it back or something a little more family friendly like that. So we're fixing some little things like that."
Tickets go on sale today, April 1st.