Bronfman ‘Dance’ on B’way

Lincoln Center taping has raised tuner's profile

NEW YORK — Edgar Bronfman Jr. will return to Broadway after nearly a 25-year absence.

The former vice chairman of Vivendi Universal has joined the producing team for the Broadway-bound musical “Never Gonna Dance,” scheduled to open in Gotham next season.

Based on the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film “Swing Time,” the tuner workshopped in Manhattan last fall under the auspices of the Weissberger Theater Group, Jay Harris, Ted Hartley and RKO Pictures. Industry buzz was so upbeat that the Library of the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center made a videotape of that presentation. Although Broadway shows are routinely taped for archival use at the library, few workshops go the vid route.

“It has been the bestselling tool,” Harris said of the workshop video, which has been seen by several interested producers and legit creatives.

According to Harris, Bronfman saw the video but not the workshop.

“Never Gonna Dance” is not Harris and Bronfman’s first association. In 1977 at age 21, Bronfman made his Broadway-producer debut with Paul Zindel’s short-lived play “Ladies at the Alamo.”

“And I was his lawyer,” Harris said.

General manager on the production was James Walsh, who is also a newcomer to the “Never Gonna Dance” producing team. Walsh won best-play Tonys as a producer on “I’m Not Rappaport” in 1986 and “The Heidi Chronicles” in 1989.

Bronfman also was a producer on Stuart Ostrow’s 1978 play “Stages.”

Director Michael Greif (“Rent”) and choreographer Jerry Mitchell (“The Full Monty”) put together the “Never Gonna Dance” workshop and will continue with the full production. The creative team also includes set designer David Gallo, costume designer William Ivey Long and lighting designer Kenneth Posner. Principal actors remain the same as in the workshop, with Noah Racey and Nancy Lemenager in the Astaire and Rogers roles.

Jeffrey Hatcher wrote the new book, and the vintage score is Jerome Kern’s.

Harris said the producers are looking for a Broadway theater for the 2002-03 season. “Ideally, we will go out of town for a month and open late fall or in March 2003,” he said.

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