Sheryl Crow-Barry Levinson ‘Diner’ Skips SF Meal; B’way Bow Set for April 2013

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So, I don’t know. A press release goes out today announcing that the musical version of the 1982 film Diner, which has been in development for the usual 88,000 years (yet has been generally getting pretty good buzz) has decided to forgo its out-of-town tryout in San Francisco in favor of a four-week New York workshop (which you can be sure everyone will be trying to get a peek at), following by a commercial, for-profit Broadway run next spring.

And that Broadway run, the release explains, will be in a different house (as yet unannounced) than first anticipated — an “intimate” theatre, rather than one of the big Broadway barns. Are there tea leaves here? And if there are tea leaves, what are we to read into them? That the roll of the dice on this show — since, of course, any commercial producing venture is, by definition, a roll of the dice — is riskier than average and therefore it was concluded that the money spent on a run in San Francisco might be best conserved by a New York workshop? That the show is in good shape, bad shape, great shape, weird shape? That the market research is done, isn’t done, will be done, won’t be done? Or that the explanation contained within the press release is, in fact, the story?

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I don’t know. You decide. Here’s the 411:

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NEW MUSICAL POSTPONES SAN FRANCISCO
FALL 2012 OUT-OF-TOWN TRYOUT TO
RETOOL FOR MORE INTIMATE BROADWAY VENUE

PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED OUT-OF-TOWN DATES
TO BE UTILIZED FOR FOUR WEEK FULLY-STAGED
WORKSHOP IN NEW YORK

DINER TO OPEN ON BROADWAY
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10, 2013
AT THEATRE TO BE ANNOUNCED

BASE Entertainment (Co-CEOs Scott Zeiger and Brian Becker) announced today that the new musical DINER has postponed its previously announced pre-Broadway engagement scheduled to play San Francisco’s SHN Curran Theatre from Tuesday, October 23, 2012, through Sunday, November 18, 2012, to retool the production for a more intimate Broadway venue.

Coming to Broadway in one of the most crowded spring seasons in some time, the production was originally envisioned and designed for a large Broadway musical house, but with the healthy crop of Broadway musicals and revivals, both current and hopefuls, there are more shows vying for large musical houses than are available. Faced with this challenge the producers and creative team of DINER embarked on an exploratory exercise to determine if the show would play as effectively in a theatre with a capacity no larger than 1,100 seats, for which there is greater opportunity. Holding themselves to uncompromising standards they happily discovered that their answer was “yes.”

The retooled production will not be completed in time for a San Francisco bow in October 2012, instead those dates will be utilized for a four week fully-staged workshop in New York for the creative team to make necessary artistic revisions. The production is investigating alternate San Francisco dates in early 2013. DINER will open on Broadway April 10, 2013, at a theatre to be announced.

“Once you have locked in your physical production out-of-town there is no flexibility to subsequently play a smaller venue. With no guarantee of a large musical house in the spring this was our only fiscally responsible choice. We are also encouraged by recent examples of successful, critically-acclaimed musicals playing theatres with roughly the same capacity that we will play,” said producer Scott Zeiger. “We are exceptionally pleased to bring DINER to Broadway in the spring and will announce our home very shortly.”

“I love that we are envisioning DINER for a more intimate theatre. I think Barry’s wonderfully vivid characters and Sheryl’s fabulously rockin’ score will be even more thrilling in a smaller venue where the audience can experience the show viscerally,” said director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall.

Based on the critically acclaimed 1982 film, DINER has a book by Academy Award winner and original DINER screenwriter Barry Levinson, music & lyrics by 9-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow, and direction and choreography by 3-time Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall, with a design team that includes scenic design by Derek McLane, lighting design by Peter Kaczorowski, sound design by Scott Lehrer, and orchestrations and music direction by Mitchell Froom.

DINER is set in Baltimore, 1959, when six high school friends reunite at the one place they know they’ll always belong: the Diner. Now in their twenties, the friends have stumbled into adulthood and struggle to keep from growing apart. Life, love, responsibility – it’s all on the table. DINER celebrates good times, great music and best friends.

DINER was Barry Levinson’s screen directing debut, and he received an Academy Award nomination for his original screenplay. The bittersweet comedy starred Kevin Bacon, Ellen Barkin, Tim Daly, Steve Guttenberg, Paul Reiser, Mickey Rourke and Daniel Stern.