If George Clooney can keep scoring with variations on the “Ocean’s Eleven” theme, then why not bring the Rat Pack back to Broadway in a new musical? That’s what producers Bruce Charet, Barry Brown and others plan to do with the musical stage version of the Frank Sinatra starrer “Robin and the 7 Hoods.”
The 1964 Warner Bros. comedy about gangsters in 1920s Chicago also starred Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. Casey Nicholaw (“The Drowsy Chaperone”) is set to direct and choreograph the “Robin” legiter, with Peter Ackerman writing the new book.
Plans are to open “Robin and the 7 Hoods” in spring 2010. Charet has capitalized the show at $15 million. The stage tuner also will include about 15 songs written by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen for the “Robin” movie, including the Sinatra standard “Chicago, My Kind of Town” and several not used in the final pic.
Tara Rubin will handle casting for the tuner, with Gregg Barnes and Natasha Katz aboard to do costumes and lighting, respectively.
Musical rendition of “Robin and the 7 Hoods” will differ from the movie in substantial ways.
“Really, it’s a whole new book,” said Nicholaw, who is skedded to helm “To Be or Not to Be” on Broadway this fall and the new tuner “Minsky’s” at the Ahmanson Theater in January.
“We’re using the movie title and the Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen song catalog,” he said.
Among other things, Ackerman has updated the story, setting it in the late 1950s and early 1960s to capitalize on the Rat Pack era. Ackerman, whose pic credits include “Ice Age,” retooled the book for the 2006 Rialto revival of “Pajama Game.”
“It’s a fascinating little moment in history when the old culture met the sexual revolution,” Charet said of the revamped “Robin.” “It is the Rat Pack and James Bond and Playboy — this very attractive, sexy period when all people were interested in doing was getting laid and drinking martinis.”
Tunesmiths Cahn and Van Heusen won eight Oscars for songs, but they were not strangers to Broadway, either.
Cahn wrote lyrics and music for the 1947 hit “High Button Shoes,” collaborating with Jule Styne, with whom he later worked on “Look to the Lilies” (1970). Cahn and Van Heusen wrote lyrics and music, respectively, for “Skyscraper” (1965) and “Walking Happy” (1966).The duo is best known on the boards today for writing the title song for the 2002 Tony winner “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” The tune had originally been heard in the 1967 Julie Andrews movie.
The “Robin and the 7 Hoods” tuner will feature such non-“Robin” tunes as “Call Me Irresponsible” and “All the Way.” One Cahn and Van Heusen song, “I Only Lead When I Dance,” which got cut from the movie, will make its debut with the stage show.
Charet and Brown are joined as producers on the “Robin” project by former Discovery Communications exec Billy Campbell, actor Dennis Farina and restaurateur Dennis Mastro. The Broadway vet on the team is Brown, who takes an exec producer title. He was a producer on the original production of “La Cage aux Folles,” as well as the revivals of “The Royal Family” (1975) and “Gypsy” (1974, 1989).
Until recently, Brown had been a professor of theater at the U. of Miami. “I really didn’t have any plans to come back to Broadway,” he noted, “but this show was suggested to me. I’d never seen the movie and thought, ‘Well, I better look at it.’ ”
Brown liked what he saw and decided to rejoin the Shubert Alley pack.