The Little Mermaid Musical is Back on Track with New Book

Thanks to a revised book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Doug Wright, the Broadway musical version of Disney's The Little Mermaid is now swimming full speed ahead after a long period of gestation.

According to Variety, a full production has now been approved by Disney after an internal reading last week; execs were pleased with Wright's book and Alan Menken's expanded score (collaborator Howard Ashman, sadly, passed away in 1991). Other prestigious names are attached to the production--director Matthew Bourne and playwright David Ives had previously been involved with The Little Mermaid, but Francesca Zambello is now set to direct the production with scenic design by George Tsypin.

The Little Mermaid, based upon the beloved 1989 Han Christian Andersen-inspired film of a mermaid's journey from water to land, had been in development for years, and finally received a 2003 reading with Kerry Butler as Ariel and Emily Skinner as Ursula. Bourne had left the project prior to the reading, and the show had languished director-less ever since.

The Little Mermaid
would reach Broadway in about two years, and would be the latest in a line of Walt Disney Production musicals, most of which were adapted from their films. Disney's first Broadway musical, Beauty and the Beast, hit the boards in 1994 and was followed by the high-concept megahit The Lion King, the concert King David, the original musical Aida (based upon the Verdi opera), and Mary Poppins, which opened in the West End late last year and is currently bound for Broadway. A musicalization of the Disney movie Tarzan also received an internal reading last week, and will most likely swing onstage in Spring of 2006.

Wright's one-man play, I Am My Own Wife, featured Jefferson Mays as the real-life East German transvestite Charlotte von Mahlsdorf; it won the Pulitzer Prize for drama last year. He won the Obie and Kesselring Awards for Quills, his meditation on the life of the Marquis de Sade which became an acclaimed film starring Geoffrey Rush. Other credits include The Stonewater Rapture, Interrogating the Nude, watbanaland, Buzzsaw Berkeley and Unwrap Your Candy.

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