Producers on raft with ‘Tom Sawyer’ musical

The Kennedy Center may jump on board

NEW YORK — Producer Edgar Dobie and the Nederlander Organization will produce the tentatively titled musical “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” writer Ken Ludwig (“Moon Over Buffalo”) has confirmed.

Don Schlitz has written the music and lyrics, with book by Ludwig. Scott Ellis will direct the musical based on the Mark Twain classic. Paul Gemignani is musical director.

The Kennedy Center may join Dobie and the Nederlanders as producers. “It’s a good possibility,” Ludwig said. “That’s moving ahead, but we don’t know yet.”

D.C. bow?

If the Kennedy Center also produces, the musical could have its world premiere in Washington, D.C., before opening on Broadway next season.

The show’s history has been a turbulent one. In 1997, Elizabeth Williams was attached as producer of the musical.

The following year, Allan Carr took the reins and held two major readings at 890 Broadway in fall 1998 and spring this year. Shortly after that second reading, Carr died, so the Schlitz/Ludwig team searched for a new producer.

Guaranteed high profile

With the Nederlanders producing, and possibly the Kennedy Center, “Tom Sawyer” should have no problem finding the right high-profile venue for its 2000-2001 premiere.

“Tom Sawyer” is Schlitz’s first legit effort. Well-known in Nashville, the country music writer has penned songs for Garth Brooks, the Judds, Randy Travis and Kenny Rogers, among others. His hits include “The Gambler,” “Forever and Ever Amen” and “When You Say Nothing at All,” which was featured in the Julia Roberts-Hugh Grant film “Notting Hill.”

Six years ago, Schlitz met legit director Mike Ockrent (“Crazy for You”) at a seminar on tuners the helmer hosted in Nashville. “They worked on a musical project together,” said Chuck Flood, Schlitz’s business manager in Nashville. “It didn’t come to anything, but Ockrent introduced Don to Ken Ludwig and they hit it off.” The two started work on the Tom Sawyer musical about four years ago.

Ludwig is repped by Peter Franklin at the William Morris Agency. Schlitz is repped by Chuck Flood at Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McArthur in Nashville.