‘Houdini’ to break out on Broadway

Elfman to provide tunes for 2010 musical

Houdini,” a new tuner based on the life of the famous escape artist, aims to break out on Broadway in spring 2010.

Danny Elfman will provide the tunes, with lyrics by David Yazbek and book by Kurt Andersen. Jack O’Brien will direct.

Scott Sanders (“The Color Purple”) and David Rockwell produce. It’s the first producing venture for Rockwell, an architect and legit designer (“Hairspray,” “Legally Blonde”) who will also design sets for “Houdini.”

Project originated with Rockwell, who, with his friend Andersen, a journo-novelist (“Turn of the Century”) and co-founder of Spy magazine, settled on the fin-de-siecle story of Houdini. Andersen will provide an original plotline based on the magician’s bio.

Elfman’s score will be the first Broadway outing for the former Oingo Boingo musician, whose screen credits include scores for “Beetlejuice,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Good Will Hunting” and the upcoming “Wanted,” as well as themes to tube skeins “The Simpsons” and “Desperate Housewives.”

Yazbek wrote the tunes to Rialto adaptations of “The Full Monty” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” both of which were directed by O’Brien (“The Coast of Utopia”). Rockwell designed “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” as well as O’Brien’s production of “Hairspray.”

“Houdini” is still in the early stages of development. “There’s a treatment, and Danny has done some initial work,” Rockwell said. “We’ve had some work sessions with Jack and the team.”

Both Rockwell and Sanders say they don’t yet have a firm sense of the scale of the musical. It seems likely, though, that the show will fall on the higher end of the Rialto budget continuum, somewhere north of $10 million.

Sanders said an out-of-town tryout, in a city to be determined, is part of the plan.

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