“Happy Trails,” the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans bio-musical intended to jump-start an overall resurgence of the Rogers brand, has corralled its complete creative team with composer Alan Menken, lyricist Glenn Slater and director Des McAnuff all signing on to work with book writer Marshall Brickman on a show aiming to make a major splash on Broadway.
Producer Larry G. Spangler of the Spangler Group has set a high bar for the production, which he envisions as a large-scale attraction for family audiences of all ages. “I’m trying to out-Disney Disney,” he said.
He added that the capitalization for the show could reach as high as $20 million — high by Broadway standards — although he hopes to get it down to somewhere between $14 million and $18 million.
Menken (“Newsies,” “Aladdin,” “The Little Mermaid”) will pen the original music that will go along with the preexisting tunes, including the familiar “Happy Trails,” that will be used in the show. Lyrics will come from frequent collaborator Slater, who’s worked with Menken on stage musicals “Sister Act” and “Leap of Faith” as well as the ABC series “Galavant,”
McAnuff, whose Broadway production of musical “Doctor Zhivago” will open later this spring, previously worked with Brickman on long-running Broadway hit “Jersey Boys,” for which Brickman (“Annie Hall,” “The Addams Family”) co-wrote the book.
Spangler, a colorful character who makes no secret of his Broadway ambitions, plans to turn heads in New York with a major publicity push for “Happy Trails” — including, he said, a cattle drive down Broadway — and four music albums to be released in advance of a Broadway opening targeted for 2016. Among the new recordings on his to-do list are a collection of country-music stars covering Rogers tunes, an original cast recording for the musical, and a duets album.
The producer estimated that it will cost $2 million just to pull together the production’s cast of animals, including a dozen different horses to play Rogers’ trusty steed Trigger and six dogs to portray Bullet the Wonder Dog. The cost, he said, could be defrayed somewhat by the fact that he owns the IP.
The musical will recount the story of Rogers from his poor childhood in Ohio to his career as a Hollywood star, meeting Evans and raising a family with her along the way.
With full details of the show’s run — including Broadway theater and exact dates — still to be nailed down, Spangler hopes to have “Happy Trails” up and running on Broadway, with no out of town tryout, in the first half of 2016.