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Disney taps director for Broadway ‘Alice’

Rob Ashford will helm musical from producer Tim Burton

Rob Ashford has been tapped by Disney Theatrical Prods. to direct and choreograph the stage musical version of Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

He joins a group of alumni of the pic already attached to the project, including Burton, whose aesthetic will be incorporated into the design of the show (Variety, March 13, 2011). Also onboard are Linda Woolverton, penning the book based on her screenplay, and Richard D. Zanuck, one of the producers of the film and an exec producer of the legit tuner.

A timeline for the new “Alice” has not yet been firmed up, although a world preem in London is said to be a possibility. “Alice” is one of a handful of properties being developed by Disney Theatrical for Broadway or the West End alongside brewing versions of “Dumbo” and “Father of the Bride.”

A rep for Disney Theatrical had no comment on Ashford’s attachment to the project. Ashford’s revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” now starring Nick Jonas, is playing on the Rialto, while the Ricky Martin-toplined “Evita,” which Ashford choreographed, began Broadway previews this week. Ashford also has a string of directing credits in London, where his Donmar Warhouse production of “Anna Christie,” starring Jude Law, just snagged four Olivier noms.

New stage version of “Alice” will follow the plot of the 2010 movie rather than the 19th century novels that inspired the storyline of Disney’s 1951 animated feature. In the Burton-helmed pic, a 19-year-old Alice flees encroaching real-world pressures by returning to Wonderland, where she becomes embroiled in a war with the Red Queen.

The 3D release of “Alice” was a major smash for the Mouse House, raking in more than $1 billion worldwide and scoring Oscars for art direction and costume design.

The public domain title “Alice in Wonderland” is no stranger to the Rialto. Most recently, another reimagined version of the story, “Wonderland,” played a short-lived run in 2011.

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