Zooey Deschanel To Play Loretta Lynn in Broadway-bound COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER
One of country music's most enduring legends-onstage with the latest pop culture "It girl"-Thursday night told an audience at Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium that her life story, already captured in a bestselling book and in an Academy Award-winning film, will make its way to Broadway as Coal Miner's Daughter is adapted for the theater.
Loretta Lynn, whose multi-decade career has firmly established her as one of Nashville's most legendary performers, introduced Zooey Deschanel (Grammy and Golden Globe nominee and star and producer of Fox's hit sitcom New Girl) to her audience last night during a performance at Opry Country Classics at the "mother church of country music," the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. In much the same way that Lynn revealed that Sissy Spacek would be taking on the challenge of playing her on film-a role that ultimately won her the Academy Award for her critically lauded, transformative performance-she gave her blessing onstage to Deschanel.
"I have a friend here tonight. I don't know if y'all remember when Sissy Spacek was with me. I brought her out here with me. She about fainted. We both fainted," Lynn told her audience. "She went on to do the Coal Miner's Daughter, and you know from there. Well, there's a little girl backstage that's going to do the play of Coal Miner's Daughter on Broadway."
"Zooey, where you at honey?" Lynn asked, bringing out Deschanel, the pop culture icon who has blurred the lines in her burgeoning career, successfully navigating the choppy waters of the musica industry while gaining legions of fans with New Girl-and keeping her face in the public eye with notable commercials for the Apple iPhone and Cotton, Incorporated.
Following the introduction, Deschanel joiNed Lynn onstage for a duet of "Coal Miner's Daughter," arguably the country music icon's best-known hit.
"It's a long way from Butcher Holler to Broadway in New York City. I never imagined I'd see Coal Miner's Daughter on a movie screen, and now I can't believe it's going to be on a stage for people to see," said the now 80-year-old Lynn. "I'm going to be right there in the front row. And I know Zooey is going to be great-she sings and writes her own songs just like I do, and we even have the same color eyes!"
"Loretta Lynn and her music have been inspirations for me for as long as I can remember," said the 32-year-old Deschanel. "She is a true legend and to be chosen to play such an iconic woman is a dream come true."
Coal Miner's Daughter, Lynn's autobiography (written with journalist George Vecsey), became a New York Times Bestseller in 1976, and in 1980 the book was made into an Academy Award-winning film starring Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Beverly D'Angelo and Levon Helm.
Like the book and film before it, the musical theater adaptation will tell the story of Lynn's rise from her impoverished Kentucky upbringing, to her unlikely triumph as "The First Lady of Country Music," and one of the most renowned women of her generation. She was the first woman named "Entertainer of the Year" by the Country Music Association in 1972, named to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988 and a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003. She is also a member of the Country Gospel Hall of Fame, ranked among VH1's 100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll and was the first female country star to be feted with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
The film's score included such Loretta Lynn standards as "You Ain't Woman Enough to Take My Man," "You're Looking at Country," "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl," and "Coal Miner's Daughter."
According to a spokesperson for the producers of the planned stage adaptations, the show is still in the embryonic stages, with no creative team yet attached to the project and no workshop dates confirmed. Fox Theatricals and Scott Sanders Productions-producers of Legally Blonde, The Color Purple, Red and Thoroughly Modern Millie on Broadway-will shepherd the project to the Great White Way.
It is not yet known if Coal Miner's Daughter will be adapted as musical theater or if it will be a "play with music," in the manner of End of the Rainbow, the biographical work now onstage at Broadway's Belasco Theatre, starring Tracie Bennett in her Tony Award-nominated turn as Judy Garland.
The Coal Miner's Daughter project is the third noteworthy musical production announced for a future on Broadway with strong connections to Tennessee theater. The Jerry Lewis-helmed production of The Nutty Professor (produced locally by 2010 First Night Honoree Mac Pirkle) bows at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in August in anticipation of its move to Broadway, while the creative team behind the musical version of Little House on the Prairie will take up residence this summer at Crossville's Cumberland County Playhouse to retool their show for its eventual Broadway debut.