'Success,' Seuss also on tap for the boards

A complete reworking of the book to the Rodgers & Hart musical “Pal Joey” leads a list of projects on the boards for Garth Drabinsky’s Livent. In addition, the Toronto-based producer of “Show Boat” and “Ragtime” has just hired a playwright to begin work on a musical of the 1957 pic “Sweet Smell of Success,” and recently acquired the rights to the Dr. Seuss characters for a family musical.

Drabinsky spelled out plans for the company’s future productions following a press conference Wednesday to discuss the L.A. production of “Ragtime,” which opens at the Shubert Theater June 15.

Terrence McNally, who adapted E.L. Doctorow’s book for “Ragtime,” is revamping the “Pal Joey” story. “The abil-ity to collect from all of Rodgers & Hart, and not just ‘Pal Joey’ music, was a key part of us doing this deal,” Drab-insky said. “We’re allowed to use any music we find appropriate.”

’98 date

Drabinsky said the musical, best known in the form of the ’57 film starring Frank Sinatra, would be mounted at the end of 1998. Which city it will premiere in depends on theater availability, he said.

“Sweet Smell of Success,” based on the film starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis, has a playwright attached who will be announced soon. A creative team is being assembled for the Seuss musical. Drabinsky calculates both productions will premiere in 1999.

Drabinsky and his “Ragtime” team — McNally, lyricist Lynn Ahrens, composer Stephen Flaherty and director Frank Galati — are in L.A. to cast the 55 parts for the second company of “Ragtime.” The first company, which opened in Toronto in December, will move to New York for the start of previews there Dec. 26. Chicago is next on the list, launching “Ragtime’s” third company.

Budgets for all the productions are expected to be in the $9 million-$10 million ballpark, and ticket prices will be scaled similarly to “Show Boat” at the Ahmanson (top ticket: $75).

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