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Creation of ‘Duck’ musical puts beards on the boards

  • A&E NETWORKS
    The “Duck Dynasty” rags-to-riches story has been made into a musical that will be performed in a small Las Vegas theater. Members of the Robertson family from the A&E reality series.
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LAS VEGAS » It’s all seemed unlikely: the God-fearing family of A&E’s "Duck Dynasty" turning their tale into a musical in Sin City.

Broadway producer Michael David has been on the receiving end of surprise and, sometimes, concern when people learned of his involvement in the "Duck Commander Musical."

What were thespian blue-staters doing getting involved with duck-hunting entrepreneurs from a decidedly red state? Especially ones whose patriarch has been quoted vilifying homosexual behavior. "If theater people are storytellers, God knows we don’t only tell stories about people we agree with," said David, the man behind "Jersey Boys."

He and music executive Tommy Mottola teamed up with the "Ducks" to bridge two worlds.

There certainly will be beards and the usual family antics seen on the show. But there will be no do-si-doing around any of the controversy involving the family on "Duck Dynasty," cable’s highest-rated reality show.

The good, the bad and the in-between are all said to be part of the 90-minute retelling of the Robertson family’s rags-to-riches story, performed in a 680-seat theater inside the Rio hotel and casino starting April 15. There will be eight performances a week, and tickets are expected to cost $49 to $125.

The musical will feature actors playing the Robertsons. It’s based on the 2012 book by Willie Robertson and wife, Korie, titled "The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks Built a Dynasty."

"If we do it right," the show will be foot-stomping fun but insightful and moving, too, David said.

It all started with Willie Robertson’s agent, who saw a Broadway tale in his book and linked up Willie with a few of her other clients: Broadway composers and lyricists Robert and Steven Morris and Joe Shane.

David and Mottola had wanted to work with the composing team, which was behind the musical "White Noise," whatever their next project would be. "Who knew this was the answer? This was not exactly what we expected," David said of learning the "Duck Commander Musical" was next.

The Robertsons’ public image has suffered since patriarch Phil Robertson commented on homosexuality in an early-2014 magazine profile, leading to a backlash and brief suspension of their popular TV program.

And it led Willie Robertson to talk it through with the people involved in the musical, knowing some are gay. He wanted to assure everyone that the rest of the family wasn’t "tarred with Phil," David said.

How the family talked it through apparently is all in the show. "It’s a powerful scene," Willie Robertson said. "That’s where it gets super deep and heavy."

David, for one, said he’s never spoken to Phil Robertson, but trusts that "as much as I was offended by some of what Phil said," it’s not what defines him entirely.

"There’s a real story here," David said. "This is … a remarkable story about a fascinating American family," one that happens to be complicated "and, for some, controversial."

Kimberley Pierceall, Associated Press

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