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Trio of tuners piping up

'West Side,' 'Scoundrels,' 'Piazza' go to the White Way

NEW YORK — Three big tuners are now in the works for Broadway: one major revival and two originals.

The Nederlanders are looking to partner with Kevin McCollum and Jeffrey Seller to bring “West Side Story” to Broadway. No director-choreographer is set.

After their “Full Monty” success, director Jack O’Brien and lyricist-composer David Yazbek have reunited on another screen-to-stage tuner: They’re turning “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” into a stage musical.

Meanwhile, legit producers will be scurrying to Seattle this weekend to take in the world preem of the long-gestating “The Light in the Piazza,” by Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas. The musical will open Saturday at the Intiman Theater.

As for “West Side Story,” the Nederlanders recently ran into a snag finding a helmer for another Jerome Robbins show, “Fiddler on the Roof.” When helmer Matthew Warchus and choreographer Kathleen Marshall wanted to replace Robbins’ original work on that musical with new dances, the Robbins estate said absolutely not. Warchus and Marshall departed the project, and David Leveaux and Jonathan Butterell, fresh off “Nine,” took over as director and choreographer, respectively. “Fiddler” will open in February on Broadway.

Robbins’ ballets in “West Side Story” constitute what is often considered the best Broadway choreography ever, and once again the estate is unlikely to let that work be tampered with or replaced. The musical’s book is by Arthur Laurents, with Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, in his first Broadway outing as lyricist, responsible for the legendary score.

“West Side Story” was originally presented in 1957. It was last revived on Broadway in 1980; that production received mediocre reviews but lasted 333 perfs.McCollum and Seller are represented on Broadway with “La Boheme,” “Rent” and the soon-to-open “Avenue Q.”

‘Scoundrels’ to sing

“Scoundrels” is expected to go the “Full Monty” route and play San Diego’s Old Globe, where O’Brien is artistic director, before arriving on Broadway. O’Brien just picked up the director Tony for his work on “Hairspray.”

The 1988 “Scoundrels” film, starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin, is a remake of 1964’s “Bedtime Story,” starring Marlon Brando and David Niven as two gigolos who con wealthy women on the French Riviera.

O’Brien could not be reached for comment on “Scoundrels,” but he talked up the project both in Gotham and London around the time of his Tony win. He had been in the U.K. to direct John Guare’s new adaptation of “His Girl Friday.”

‘Piazza’ comes to light

Guettel has been one of the most watched new talents in the musical theater since his “Floyd Collins” opened at Playwrights Horizon in the 1996. Adding to the mystique of his infrequent output is the Guettel lineage: He is the grandson of Richard Rodgers.

Next up, “The Light in the Piazza” travels to Chi’s Goodman Theater, current home of the new Stephen Sondheim/John Weidman tuner “Bounce,” where it will opens in early 2004.

“Piazza” is based on Elizabeth Spencer’s novella about a young American woman who falls in love while traveling in Italy, much against her mother’s wishes. A 1962 film version starred Olivia de Havilland and Yvette Mimieux.

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