‘South Pacific,” the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical based on James Michener’s “Tales of the South Pacific,” is being made into a new film, and Hugh Jackman has been tapped to play Emile de Beque. It will update the original 1958 film, which was shot in Hanalei, Kauai, and directed by Joshua Logan, with Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor in the principal roles.
There’s no buzz yet, there’s surely island interest in this one. Will the project be lensed here?
Feelers are out for Michelle Williams to portray Nellie Forbush, with Justin Timberlake as Lieutenant Cable, under the direction of Michael Mayer. Dates are not yet set.
Wouldn’t it be logical for Loretta Ables Sayre, who portrayed Bloody Mary in Lincoln Center’s revival of the stage musical from 2008 to 2010, to expand her Tony-nominated performance? If not Ables Sayre, perhaps Keala Settle, who co-starred with Jackman in the cinematic hit, “The Greatest Showman”? They both have island ties.
“South Pacific” is one of a spate of musical films on the horizon — with titles you know and many with tunes you adore — being rebooted. Which begs the question, does something old have to be new again?
Disney’s recent resurrected “Aladdin,” with the requisite magic lamp, blue genie and magic flying carpet, hasn’t fared well. Originally a cartoon, it was transformed into a hit stage musical, then morphed as a live-action film with Mena Massoud (Aladdin), Naomi Scott (Jasmine) and Will Smith (Genie). Guy Ritchie directed.
Disney continues to recycle. “The Lion King,” a new live-action adaptation of the classic cartoon-turned-stage phenom, debuts July 19. Jon Favreau is directing; the cast features Donald Grover, Beyonce, Chiwetel Ejiofor and James Earl Jones, and a soundtrack by Elton John and Tim Rice.
Lots more revivals are on the horizon
>> “Cats,” opening Dec. 20. Tom Hooper directs; the felines will be led by Jennifer Hudson (Grizabella, the Glamour Cat). The Jellicle felines include James Corden (Bustopher Jones), Judi Dench (Old Deuteronomy), Ian McKellen (Gus, the Theater Cat), Rebel Wilson (Jennyanydots), Taylor Swift (Bombalurina), Idris Elba (Macavity), Jason Derulo (Rum Tum Tugger), Robert Fairchild (Munkustrap), Mette Towley (Jemima), Francesca Hayward (Victoria) and Steven McRae (Skimbleshanks). The source remains Andrew Lloyd Webber’s interpretation of T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” Sir Lloyd Webber is rumored to be providing new songs.
>> “In the Heights,” opening June 26, 2020. Jon M. Chu will direct this adapation of the Tony-winning hip-hop musical by “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, about life amid the bodegas of New York’s Washington Heights. Anthony Ramos and Corey Hawkins will star.
>> “West Side Story,” opening Dec. 18, 2020. Steven Spielberg’s interpretation of the film classic by Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents, will star Ansel Elgort (Tony), Rachel Zegler (Maria), Ariana DeBose (Anita), David Alvarez (Bernardo), Josh Andres Rivera (Chino), Brian d’Arcy James (Sergeant Krupke), and Corey Stoll (Lieutenant Schrank); Rita Moreno, the iconic Oscar-winning Anita in the original film, returns in a new capacity as Valentina, replacing Doc.
Other projects in development
>> “Sunset Boulevard,” with Glenn Close (who else?). Rob Ashford will direct the stage musical by Lloyd Webber, Don Black and Christopher Hampton, based on the Billy Wilder film.
>> “Be More Chill, still on Broadway, already has been optioned as cinematic thrill; the Joe Iconis–Joe Tracz hit is about a teen who swallows a pill that heightens his popularity, and heads to the screen via Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps and Greg Berlanti Productions.
>> “Come From Away,” to be directed by Christopher Ashley, also has no cast yet but continues to be a Broadway sellout. It’s about 7,000 air passengers diverted to Newfoundland after the 9/11 terrorist attack that grounded airplanes.
>> “Dear Evan Hansen,” the Tony-winning Broadway hit; an adaptation of the social media concoction by Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
>> “Matilda,” based on the Tony-winning musical, with director Matthew Warchus.
>> “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” with composers Lloyd Webber and Elton John collaborating on an animated feature.
>> “Little Shop of Horrors,” a new version of the man-eating plant, directed by Greg Berlanti.
>> “Miss Saigon,”a Cameron Mackintosh film directed by Danny Boyle, based on the stage musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, as a follow-up to their “Les Miserables” collaboration.
>> “Oliver,” a Disney remake of the Lionel Bart stage musical, with Ice Cube, directed by “Hamilton’s” Thomas Kail.
>> “Wicked,” the Stephen Schwartz–Winnie Holzman hit still on Broadway, directed by Stephen Daldry.
>> “Spamalot,” directed by Casey Nicholaw, based on the Eric Idle–John Du Prez stage musical.
>> “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” still with beaucoup Broadway friends, with backing from producers Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman and Paul Blake.
>> “Tick, Tick … Boom!,” directed by Miranda, based on Jonathan Larson’s semi-autobiographic musical. …
And that’s “Show Biz.”
Wayne Harada is a veteran entertainment columnist. Reach him at 266-0926 or email@example.com.