"Julie Newmar" is being turned into a musical.
Well, "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar."
Carter Beane, who wrote the screenplay, originally thought of his drag queen story as being perfect for the stage. There was a snag. No, not in the stockings. In the main prop. The drag queens were going to travel across country in a car: "I started working on ‘To Wong Foo’ but couldn’t figure out how to put a car onstage. So I turned it into a screenplay instead.”
The movie, produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment in 1995, has grossed $50 million and with the history of drag musicals what it is ("Hairspray" and "Kinky Boots" both hits), now seems to be the time for Carter Beane and his husband Lewis Finn to get the music lyrics in place.
Talking to the NY Post's theater maven Michael Riedel, Beane said, "The songs are very Americana by way of Aaron Copland. There’s an opera vibe to it, and it’s very open-hearted.”
Time is a factor here. The Beane-Finn musical is in a "workshop" stage, with Santino Fontana taking the lead (Vida Boheme) originally played by Patrick Swayze. However, Fontana also has the lead in the musical version of "Tootsie" that's also being fine-tuned for Broadway.
If Fontana's "Tootsie" gets to Broadway first, would that doom chances for "Wong Foo?" Would the "Wong Foo" production wait for "Tootsie" to close before starting up with Fontana? The situation seems a bit too new for much speculation. Many shows never get past the "workshop" stage and make it to the actual stage.
For the real Julie Newmar, this would be the third time she's associated with a Broadway musical. Fans will of course note that "7 Brides for 7 Brothers" was a movie musical (and her singing voice was dubbed). "Silk Stockings" featured Julie as the ballerina, but didn't involve her singing. And in her breakthrough rule as Stupefyin' Jones (in "Li'l Abner") she stupefied without saying or singing a word!
Imagine...a stage scene like the one in the film...a view of Julie Newmar as a beautiful inspiration. It could happen. Why not? In the revival of "Li'l Abner," Julie's character rose from center stage, did a minute or two of dance steps, and exited to wild applause. Here, the real Julie Newmar could simply emerge to be admired by all, and to crown the beauty contest winner. Now that's the way to bring down the house! APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE.