‘Once’ gets musical makeover

Oscar-winning film to be adapted for the stage

John N. Hart Jr., Jeffrey Sine and Frederick Zollo have acquired the worldwide rights to produce a legit tuner version of 2007’s “Once,” which won the Oscar for song.

Aiming for a Broadway berth during the 2010-11 season, “Once” is the first project announced for a new fund formed by the three producers with the intention of backing a number of stage projects.

Creative team for the Rialto version of “Once” — including a book writer and a director — will be announced at a later date. Zollo said he expected both composer-stars of the Fox Searchlight pic, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, to be involved in the tuner’s development, and hoped writer-director John Carney also would play a role.

Musical will likely include songs from the film’s platinum-selling soundtrack along with others penned by Hansard and Irglova that did not make it into the film. In February the composers picked up the original song Oscar for “Falling Slowly.”

Although no capitalization costs have been determined yet, Zollo said he expected the show be an intimate musical on a scale similar to “Spring Awakening,” probably playing a Broadway house of about 1,000 seats.

In addition to “Once,” producers aim to use their new fund to produce a number of legit outings, concentrating mainly on plays — both revivals of rarely seen shows and stagings of new scripts.

“The first tier is to option plays, and then do them with notable directors and notable companies,” Zollo said. “These would be productions that would immediately get some attention.”

According to Zollo, producers have spoken to thesps including Al Pacino and Gwyneth Paltrow regarding potential stints on the Rialto, with Zollo adding he hoped to stage a revival of 1928 comedy “The Front Page” with a man and a woman cast in the two lead roles (as in the pic version “His Girl Friday”).

The producers optioned “Once” about a year ago, before the Oscar attention made the movie a hot property. “It was one of those lucky breaks,” Zollo said.

Zollo has been a producer on both pics (“Mississippi Burning,” “Quiz Show”) and stage offerings (“ ‘night, Mother,” “Angels in America”), as has Hart, whose credits include films “Revolutionary Road” and “Boys Don’t Cry” and legit productions “Chicago” and “The Who’s Tommy.” Sine’s stage resume includes “Spring Awakening” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” also produced by Zollo.

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