‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Stage Musical to Become Universal Film With Marc Platt Producing

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Dear Evan Hansen,” the Tony-winning stage musical, is being adapted into a feature film. Universal has acquired the rights to develop the project for the screen, and Marc Pratt (“La La Land,” “Into the Woods”) will produce along with Adam Siegel, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

Stephen Chbosky, the director of “Wonder” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” is also in early negotiations to direct “Dear Evan Hansen,” according to the individual. Steven Levenson, who wrote the original book for “Dear Evan Hansen,” will write the screenplay.

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who wrote the music and lyrics for the stage production, sold the rights to Universal. Pasek and Paul won an Oscar for Best Original Song for “City of Stars” from “La La Land.” And they’re also expected to be executive producers on the film, along with Levenson.

Also Read: ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Theater Review: A New Musical for the Hashtag Generation

“Dear Evan Hansen” is the story of a high school senior with the titular name who has severe social anxiety and has trouble connecting with others and making friends. After the suicide of a classmate, Hansen gets caught in a lie that brings him closer to his classmate’s family.

The 2016 Broadway production was nominated for nine Tony awards and won six, including Best Musical and Best Score.

Platt has produced several musicals, including “La La Land” and “Into the Woods,” and is also the father of Ben Platt, who won the Tony award for his lead role in “Dear Evan Hansen” when it debuted on Broadway.

Levenson and Chbosky are repped by WME. Pasek, Paul and Levenson are repped by CAA.

Deadline was first to report.

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‘Days of Rage’ Theater Review: This Revolution Won’t Be Televised

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

There’s a good full-length two-act play ready to break out of Steven Levenson’s 90-minute “Days of Rage,” which had its world premiere Monday at Off Broadway’s Second Stage.

It’s October 1969 in “a ramshackle old house in upstate New York,” where three college dropouts named Spence (Mike Faist), Jenny (Lauren Patten) and Quinn (Odessa Young) are attempting to start the revolution.

Richard and Jeff also used to live in this “collective,” and it’s these two other would-be revolutionaries, whom we never see, who suggest a wonderful first act for this oddly engaging but ultimately ungrounded work by the author of “If I Forget” and the book for the Tony-winning musical “Dear Evan Hansen.”

Also Read: ‘The Waverly Gallery’ Broadway Review: Kenneth Lonergan Remembers a Lost, Eccentric Life

Richard and Jeff come to a bad end off stage in “Days of Rage,” but from what we’re told, they were the real thing in terms of trying to start a revolution. Plus, they also insisted on a very theatrical approach to sex: “There was a calendar. A schedule. Who was supposed to sleep with whom.” Frankly, who wouldn’t want to see that in action on stage?

While somewhat fluid, the sex life of Spence, Peggy and Quinn is much less eye-popping, and they spend their days trying to start the revolution by handing out leaflets for a big march that’s scheduled to take place in the near future in far-off Chicago.

Back in 1969, young people did help to bring about the end of the Vietnam War, eventually, but now those hopeful activists are over the age of 60 and represent a voting block that often prevents anything progressive from happening in the country. That depressing fact lingers around the edges of “Days of Rage.”

Also Read: ‘The Ferryman’ Broadway Review: Jez Butterworth and Sam Mendes Unload on the IRA

Unfortunately, Levenson is a little too eager to expose what Spence, Peggy and Quinn will become, not to mention what’s really cooking inside their middle-class brains in October 1969 (two months before the first Selective Service lottery).  The playwright keeps pulling the Marxist playbook out from under them, and their actions and words, while often amusing, have little consequence.

Since the collective desperately needs money, Spence takes in a stray named Peggy (Tavi Gevinson), who not only carries $2,000 in her small suitcase but is a quick learner in trying to retrace the footsteps of Richard and Jeff. She’s also a brilliant conniver who relishes bringing discord to the collective’s already slightly fraught love life. Gevinson mines the character’s deviousness to great comic effect.

What Levenson builds with Peggy, however, he dismantles with the drama’s fifth character. Playing a Sears employee named Hal, J. Alphonse Nicholson gives a nicely understated performance, but it’s just too convenient to have a young African-American character be the embodiment of reason, morality and common sense that punctures the dreams of pampered white kids.

Also Read: ‘Gloria: A Life’ Theater Review: Christine Lahti Channels Gloria Steinem

Trip Cullman directs an accomplished ensemble, and Faist (so memorable in “Dear Evan Hansen”) manages to reveal a few genuine moments of commitment to the cause. Totally absent is any angst about that upcoming draft lottery, however. (I was in college in 1969. It was a big, big deal.)

Louisa Thompson’s scenic design for the collective’s two-story house is massive, and awkwardly moves back and forth on wheels during blackouts to create slightly more space downstage for scenes played on the street. In the end, all that rocking only draws attention to Levenson’s overly episodic drama.

Most disappointing is Levenson’s decision to end “Days of Rage” with Quinn telling Spence what happens to the characters in the decades to come. The writing here is not treacly like Conor McPherson’s tacked-on update for the life of every character in “Girl From the North Country.” Regardless, it’s time for a moratorium on any more final scenes of future nostalgia in new plays.

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Michelle Williams, Sam Rockwell to Star in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s FX Limited Series ‘Fosse/Verdon’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

FX has greenlit “Fosse/Verdon,” an eight-episode limited series from Lin-Manuel Miranda and “Hamilton” director Thomas Kail, starring Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams, Nick Grad and Eric Schrier, the Presidents of Original Programming for FX Networks and FX Productions, announced Tuesday.

The eight-episode limited series is based on Sam Wasson’s “Fosse” biography and tells the story of the singular romantic and creative partnership between Bob Fosse (Rockwell) and Gwen Verdon (Williams). He was a visionary filmmaker and one of theater’s most influential choreographers and directors, she was the greatest Broadway dancer of all time. Together they changed the face of American entertainment – at a perilous cost. FX announced the show will feature Fosse’s choreography and explore the hidden corners of show business, the price of pursuing greatness, and the suffering inflicted in the name of art.

Kail, Miranda, Rockwell, Williams, Steven Levenson and George Stelzner will all executive produce the series, which hails from Fox 21 Television Studios and FX Productions. Levenson, will serve as showrunner and wrote the premiere episode, which will be directed by Kail. Actress, dancer and producer Nicole Fosse — the daughter of Fosse and Verdon — will serve as co-executive producer and oversees The Verdon Fosse Legacy. Co-producer Andy Blankenbuehler is the show’s choreographer.

Also Read: ‘Pose’ Producer Janet Mock Talks Groundbreaking FX Drama, Looks Ahead to Season 2

“My mother and father have one of the greatest love stories ever known,” Nicole Fosse said. “They were extremely complex people with an indestructible bond, loyalty, and trust that endured both fantasy and reality. Finally, we have a creative team with the talent and wisdom to tell the story.”

“Bob Fosse ignited a revolution in American dance, theater, and film,” Kail, Levenson and Miranda added. “But, in contrast to the well-worn myth of the visionary artist working in solitude, Fosse’s work would not have been possible without Gwen Verdon, the woman who helped to mold his style – and make him a star. We are honored to work with the incredible team at FX and Fox 21, and these two extraordinary actors, to tell the story of this remarkable couple, and the complicated, fascinating relationship between them.”

“Fosse/Verdon” marks the first big limited series FX has locked down since it was announced Ryan Murphy (the prolific producer behind the majority of their limited series) is exiting his overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV for a $300 million pact with Netflix.

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“We are over the moon about this dream team we’ve assembled for this incredible series,” said Grad. “Tommy, Steven, and Lin are the perfect team to tell the story of Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon, and we’re so thrilled to have Sam and Michelle playing these iconic roles.”

“Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon’s story is one of a fascinating, passionate love affair that gave birth to some truly remarkable cultural achievements, and to this day it has been largely untold,” Bert Salke, President of Fox 21 Television Studios, added. “In the capable hands of Steven, Tommy and Lin, with the vital creative input and imprimatur of their only daughter Nicole, this series is going to be a compelling look at these two icons as portrayed by the enormously talented Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams. We’re very excited.”

Production on “Fosse/Verdon” will begin in the fall, with a series debut scheduled for 2019.

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Imagine Sets Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Helming Debut: ‘Rent’ Creator Jonathan Larson’s ‘Tick, Tick…Boom!’; ‘Evan Hansen’s Steven Levenson Scripting

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EXCLUSIVE: In what shapes up as a stage-to-film transfer with iconic Broadway talent, Imagine Entertainment has set Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda to make his feature directorial debut on Tick, Tick…Boom! That is based on the autobiographica…

Fox Buys ‘Adam & Eva’ Drama Based On Dutch Format From Marc Platt, Steven Levenson & Scripted World

Read on: Deadline.

Fox has given a script commitment plus penalty to Adam & Eva, a modern-day Adam and Eve drama based on the praised Dutch series, from Tony-winning playwright Steven Levenson (Masters of Sex), producer Marc Platt (La La Land), Scripted World and 20th Century Fox TV.
Written by Levenson, Adam & Eva follows Adam and Eva, two unique souls in New York City drawn together by fate. Both struggle with feelings of isolation heightened by living in a city with 8.5 million…

‘If I Forget’ Theater Review: ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Writer Spins Magnificent Comedic Drama

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Where would American playwrights be without the vagaries of capitalism to fuel their family dramas? The unpaid electric bill in “The Glass Menagerie,” the stinginess of a husband-father in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” the breadwinner who can’t close a deal in “Death of a Salesman.”

In Steven Levenson’s magnificent new play, “If I Forget,” which opened February 22 at Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre, money is the least of anybody’s problems in the first act. However, by the end of this full-bodied two-and-a-half hour production, money has come to shape everything. The drama’s three loving, warring siblings agree about nothing, until the very end when they all raise their hands about what to do with their inheritance, even though Dad is not yet dead.

Before we get to the Holocaust, Jerusalem Syndrome, and the unraveling of the Oslo Accord in 2000 during the Bush-Gore 2000 election fiasco, it should be noted that “If I Forget” is a very funny play. No comedy on New York’s boards right now can match it laugh for laugh.

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There are many miles and years between the Jewish angst of Levenson’s play and the Southern Gothic guilt of Tennessee Williams’s best plays. What the two writers share is an ability to capture the way families speak in code. On the surface, the talk is innocuous, but in the background new bricks are being placed to make old walls even higher.

The humor lies between what’s said and what’s meant and the history that the latter reveals. It’s Blanche du Bois telling Stella her weight gain is becoming but she “just has to watch it a little around the hips.” And it’s Stella telling her sister how she likes to wait on her because “it reminds me of home.”

Even though the three adult Fischer children in “If I Forget” don’t see much of each other anymore, they have that same kind of banter: part compliment and part comeuppance, and if the hurt isn’t intended, one of them will incorrectly (or not) feel injured. The miraculous thing about Levenson’s talent is that he makes us understand the Fischers’ private code even though it’s not our family. And even if you aren’t Jewish.

He also understands how a family, as much as its various members hate each other, has the ability to lock out an in-law with only a few words.

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The Fischers’ mother has recently passed away, and even though the father (Larry Bryggman) is alive and well, he hasn’t responded to the book manuscript his professor son, Michael (Jeremy Shamos), sent him six months ago. Levenson wisely delays telling us the exact nature and title of the book until we’re far into act one.

Let’s just say it’s controversial enough to define every conversation Michael has with his Gentile wife (Tasha Lawrence), who hasn’t been given a copy to read, and his older sister (Kate Walsh) and her husband (Gary Wilmes), who also haven’t been given a copy and wouldn’t read it anyway, and his younger unmarried sister (Maria Dizzia), who read it unbeknownst to her brother and made a copy for her rabbi to get his opinion.

Michael doesn’t want to talk about the book, but when he’s prodded, he can’t stop talking about it. The responses of those who haven’t read it range from “Oh” to “Wow,” and from those who have read it: “You sound like Pat Buchanan.”

Also Read: ‘The Penitent’ Theater Review: David Mamet Finds New Ways to Present an Argument

The three Fischer siblings could not be more different in their outlook on religion, raising children, and America’s relationship to Israel, and yet to the credit of Levenson, the actors, and director Daniel Sullivan, they’re very much from the same family, a family that will always make the two in-laws feel like in-laws, despite their being the peacemakers.

The Fischers are always ready for a good argument, even when there’s not much disagreement. As Michael comments at one point, “Falafel is originally, it’s actually an interesting history, in terms of the politics of falafel.” If you can argue about falafel, you can argue about anything.

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The siblings take great umbrage at false accusations leveled against them, only to prove those accusations quite true in the second act, when the problems with Michael’s unpublished book begin to compete with the family’s other big concern. For Hamlet, it’s to be or not to be. Since the Fischers are American, it’s to sell or not to sell. Levenson also enjoys a good argument, obviously, and he presents every side of the property issue, as well as the history of Jews in America for the last 150 years.

“If I Forget” is packed with revelations, but Levenson is so expert with his exposition that the pregnancy, the online affair, the mental breakdown, the career implosion, and the exploding debts never turn into soap opera.  To tell more of the story here would be a mistake. An amazing play.

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Review: Steven Levenson’s ‘If I Forget’ And John Kander’s ‘Kid Victory’

Read on: Deadline.

Talk about having your moment: Masters of Sex writer Steven Levenson wrote the book for Broadway’s new hit Dear Evan Hansen and recently signed on as book writer for Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig’s new movie musical under producer Marc Platt. With If I Forget, Levenson returns to the Roundabout Theatre Company, which earlier presented his The Language of Trees and The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin.
Brilliantly staged and at once funny and deeply unsettling, If I…

Off Broadway Review: ‘If I Forget’ Starring Kate Walsh

Read on: Variety.

The problem with many, if not most, family dramas is that the families are so often hateful. Playwright Steven Levenson (book writer of “Dear Evan Hansen”) avoids that trap in “If I Forget,” writing about a tribe of middle-aged Jewish neurotics who snipe and squabble after the death of their mother — but who basically… Read more »