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Tuners dream of Broadway landing

Broadway and the Road 2011

To locally premiere a tuner and see it become a Great White Way cash cow is the trickiest of grails. Still, every “Memphis” keeps the dream alive for the likes of “Bonnie and Clyde,” a La Jolla Playhouse alumnus from 2009 that’s slated for a December opening at the Schoenfeld.

Managements are usually coy about their hopes. Yet surely some secretly pray that, as with ART’s “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” a boat’ll be leavin’ soon for New York for any of the following tuners.

“Jesus Christ Superstar”
Des McAnuff’s high-tech Stratford, Ontario, revival copped a La Jolla November slot when tuner hopeful “Finding Neverland” proved unready for primetime.
Why It Could Soar: Believers and agnostics alike adore this score.
Why It Could Sink: Overfamiliarity might elicit a general ho-hum.

“Chess”
Entrepreneur Craig Revel Horwood thinks he’s cracked the legendary material after a long U.K. tour. Toronto, September.
Why It Could Soar: Marketing opportunities in the concept album’s legions of fans, and Abba appeal rubbing off on Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus.
Why It Could Sink: Has it ever worked? Isn’t all that Cold War stuff more than a little passe?

“Some Lovers”
After the promises, promises of another tuner after “Promises, Promises” (not to mention the Liv Ullmann movie musical “Lost Horizon”), Burt Bacharach returns for a modern spin on O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi,” words by Steven Sater (“Spring Awakening”). Old Globe, December.
Why It Could Soar: Everything old can be new again, including Bacharach’s signature ’60s swing. His tricky, cheerful rhythms could be an interesting fit with Sater’s emotional near-rhyming
Why It Could Sink: Overfamiliar and overadapted source material risks a case of the Christmas cutes.

“Newsies”
Extry! Punks pummel Pulitzer’s papers; sing in solidarity. 1992 Disney cult pic transformed for Paper Mill Playhouse, September.
Why It Could Soar: Oppressed laborers bonding against the Man could have resonance in these anti-union times.
Why It Could Sink: Grit and authenticity will be needed to prevent the cadre of ragged-trousered newsboys from becoming a smarmy, precocious chorus line.

“Funny Girl”
Lauren Ambrose steps into the shoes of whatshername for the Fanny Brice bio’s first pro revival since 1964. Ahmanson, February.
Why It Could Soar: Helmer Bartlett Sher revitalized under-revived classic “South Pacific.” There’ll be interest in whether the “Six Feet Under” star can channel her inner Second Avenue comedienne.
Why It Could Sink: Tougher than replacing Streisand’s memory may be cracking that second act, which was like watching paint dry as far back as ’64.

“Nobody Loves You”
A guy tries to reconnect with his ex via a TV dating show. Originally titled “Reality!” when workshopped in 2008, the romance features music by Gaby Alter and words by Itamar Moses. Old Globe, May.
Why It Could Soar: Sounds like a smart and contempo premise, and though Alter’s avowed influences are rock and pop he professes respect and reverence for the tuner form.
Why It Could Sink: Alter has said he likes “catchy melodies and simple refrains,” but Moses’ playwrighting is fond of subverting genres and expectations. These guys might need their own reality show to make this marriage work.

“Los Otros”
Chamber musical about a Mexican-American man and Southern Californian woman, from Michael John LaChiusa and Ellen Fitzhugh. Mark Taper Forum, June.
Why It Could Soar: Why not? It sounds different, and a mix of the personal and political is never amiss.
Why It Could Sink: LaChiusa has always been caviar to the general. Will the subject matter carry much punch east of the Rockies?

“Sleepless in Seattle”
Jeff Arch, who penned the 1993 hit pic, crafts a libretto to the tunes of rock- and jazz-based newcomers Michelle Citrin, Michael Garin and Josh Nelson. Pasadena Playhouse, June.
Why It Could Soar: Lovers who meet only at the finale will have interesting opportunities for coast-to-coast ballads and comedy numbers. Guys dragged there by their dolls will at least know what they’re in for, and tartness in the telling could offset the sentiment.
Why It Could Sink: What can songs add to an already finely crafted vehicle? This one may hinge on casting. If Sam and Annie aren’t totally winning, it could be one gloppy slog.

BROADWAY AND THE ROAD 2011
Road presenters bank on ‘Book’ | Tuners dream of Broadway landing | Winning and losing on stage in Vegas | Curtains up for Toronto legit | Tour is booked, options are open

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