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Dear Producers: Please Don’t F**k Up “The First Wives Club” Musical

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Dear Producers: Please Don’t F**k Up “The First Wives Club” Musical
February 14, 2015 ● by Evan Ross Katz

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A musical based on The First Wives Club—the iconic 1996 film that paired Better Midler, Diane Keaton, and Goldie Hawn—is finally edging toward Broadway after a failed effort back in 2009.

Let’s straightaway kibosh any fever dream that the musical would feature the film’s stars: Midler’s got a new album and a UK tour. Keaton’s busy recording her part in Disney/Pixar’s Finding Dory. And Hawn? She’s puffing cigarettes with Melanie Griffith. This version stars Tony winner Faith Prince, Christine Sherrill and Carmen Cusack.

Based on the best-selling novel by Olivia Goldsmith, both the movie and the stage musical follow three college friends who reconnect years later at a funeral and decide to reclaim their lives and take revenge on their philandering ex-husbands.

An earlier attempt at a Wives musical—starring Sheryl Lee Ralph with a book by Rupert Holmes (The Mystery of Edwin Drood)—fizzled before hitting the Great White Way.

The new iteration—set to bow at Chicago’s Oriental Theater on February 17 before a planned debut in New York—is being directed by Simon Philips (Priscilla Queen of the Desert) with a book by Designing Women creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and music by Motown songwriters Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland.

While movie-based musicals have had varying degrees of success—Once and Billy Elliot were hits; 9 to 5 and Rocky, not so much—First Wives Club seems like a natural fit, what with it’s over-the-top trio literally bursting into song by the film’s close.

Still, it’s been nearly 20 years since the film, there’s still the foul odor of the 2009 version, and its taken another six years to get this production on any stage, so pardon us for remaining slightly skeptical.

While the casting of Broadway legend Prince (Guys and Dolls) does give us hope, the lack of a big marquee name (à la Allison Janney in 9 to 5) is worrying. Also: why isn’t Elise blonde? It’s supposed to be a blonde, a brunette, and a “redhead.”

Producers, to borrow a phrase from RuPaul, please don’t f**k it up!

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