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Scoop! New Stephen Sondheim & David Ives Musical Confirmed to Be in the Works; Based on Two Films


At last night's New Yorker Festival conversation with Stephen Sondheim, an exciting announcement was made: Stephen Sondheim is working on something new.

Confirming previously reported rumors, the new project will be a collaboration between Sondheim and contemporary American playwright David Ives. The project, whose title was not announced, will be based on two classic films by Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel. The two separate films will be the basis for one complete story which the characters will exist in seamlessly. The first half will be based on The 1972 film "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" and the second half will be based on the 1962 film "The Exterminating Angel."

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is a 1972 surrealist film directed by Luis Buñuel and written by Jean-Claude Carrière in collaboration with the director. The narrative concerns a group of upper middle class people attempting - despite continual interruptions - to dine together. The film received the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and a nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

The Exterminating Angel was written and directed by Luis Buñuel, starring Silvia Pinal, and produced by her then-husband Gustavo Alatriste. It is considered by the Mexican film critics as the 16th best film of the Mexican cinema and one of the best 1000 films by the New York Times. Its plot concerns a formal dinner party at the lavish mansion of Señor Edmundo Nobile. By morning it is apparent that, for some inexplicable reason, they are psychologically, but not physically, trapped in the music room.

This marks the first new work from Stephen Sondheim since his less-successful production of "Bounce" in 2003 that was renamed "Roadshow" and remounted in 2008. Sondheim turned out sixteen major works in the American Musical Theatre quite consistently (one show every one to four years) from 1957 (West Side Story) to 1994 (Passion). According to audience reports from last night's event, Sondheim noted that the first draft had just been completed, so they were targeting 'the next few years' for when we'd see the musical.

Ives is the book writer of Irving Berlin's White Christmas and Dance of the Vampires, and has adapted Is He Dead and Wonderful Town for Broadway. He is a regular book adapter for the Encores! Broadway series. He is also the author of All in the Timing, which originated as an evening of one-act comedies that premiered at Primary Stages in 1993 and later moved to the John Houseman Theatre for 606 performances. The production won him the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for Playwriting. His play Venus in Fur earned two 2012 Tony nominations.

Living legend Stephen Sondheim is the winner of one Academy Award, eight Tony Awards (more than any other composer), multiple Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the Laurence Olivier Award. His most famous scores include A Little Night Music, Company, Follies, Sweeney Todd, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, and Assassins. He additionally wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy. Film contributions include contributing the song "Goodbye For Now" to the 1981 Warren Beatty film Reds, and five songs for the 1990 movie Dick Tracy, including Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man), which won the Academy Award for Best Song.

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