Cowboy musical to open in spring 2009
Broadway dons a cowboy hat next year with “Pure Country,” a new tuner adaptation of the 1992 pic that has set its sights on a Rialto berth in spring 2009.A duo with backgrounds in country and pop music, composer Steve Dorff (Eddie Rabbitt’s “Every Which Way but Loose”) and lyricist John Bettis (Madonna’s “Crazy for You”) team to provide the score. Peter Masterson, co-writer and co-helmer of “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” directs and co-writes the book with original pic scribe Rex McGee. Score will mostly be original, although two songs from the movie soundtrack that were written and co-produced by Dorff, “Heartland” (co-written by Bettis) and “I Cross My Heart,” will be included. Both tunes hit No. 1 on the Billboard country chart in the early 1990s. Plot centers on a country music megastar (played by George Strait in the movie) who unexpectedly exits a major concert tour, hitting the road incognito in an attempt to return to his roots. Creative team includes Derek McLane (sets), Ann Roth (costumes), Kevin Adams (lights) and Sean Curran (choreography). Randall L. Wreghitt (“The Lieutenant of Inishmore,” “Grey Gardens,” “Little Women”), Chris Presley and Ellen Rusconi produce. Country music fans seem a logical demo for the Rialto to tap, although recent twangy Broadway outings haven’t caught on. A 2003 production of “Urban Cowboy” tanked, as did the Johnny Cash catalog musical “Ring of Fire” in 2006. Another new musical with country leanings, John Mellencamp and Stephen King’s “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,” will preem in Atlanta in April 2009. No dates, theater or out-of-town tryout for “Pure Country” have been announced.