‘Death Becomes Her’ Sets Broadway Musical Debut This Fall

Universal Theatrical Group announced Wednesday that the musical adaptation of ‘Death Becomes Her’ is headed to Broadway. Previews are scheduled to begin on October 23, with the official opening set for November 21 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in Midtown Manhattan.

In 2017, Tony-winning director-choreographer Christopher Gattelli teamed up with writer Marco Pennette and composers Julia Mattison and Noel Carey to transform Robert Zemeckis’ 1992 cult classic film—starring Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, and Goldie Hawn—into a stage production.

 

 

The announcement comes just two weeks after ‘Death Becomes Her’ officially opened at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago, IL, where it will run through June 2 before moving to New York.

Grammy-winning Destiny’s Child alum Michelle Williams stars as the mysterious and wealthy socialite Viola Van Horn, a slight variation of Isabella Rossellini’s Lisle von Rhuman from the original film. Smash alum and Tony nominee Megan Hilty takes on the role of aging actress Madeline Ashton, while two-time Tony nominee Jennifer Simard plays her frenemy Helen Sharp. The plot follows Helen’s quest for revenge after Madeline ‘steals’ her plastic surgeon fiancé, Ernest Menville, played by Christopher Sieber.

The official logline reads: “After one sip of Viola’s magical potion, Madeline and Helen begin a new era of life (and death) with their youth and beauty restored… and a grudge to last eternity.”

A newly-released teaser opens with a scene reminiscent of the film, set on a rainy New York night on Broadway. The narcissistic Madeline belts out a disco-inspired song titled “I See Me” while starring in ‘Songbird!’, a disastrous Broadway musical adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ 1959 play ‘Sweet Bird of Youth.’

The original film, a $55 million-budget zom-com set in Beverly Hills, received mixed reviews from critics but was a box office success, grossing $149 million globally. It has since become a beloved classic within the LGBTQAI community.

‘Illusion’ designer Rob Lake faces the challenge of recreating some of the Oscar-winning visual effects originally developed by Industrial Light and Magic for ‘Death Becomes Her.’ These effects, including computer-generated skin texture, were groundbreaking at the time.

Reflecting on the experience of filming ‘Death Becomes Her,’ Meryl Streep told Entertainment Weekly, “Whatever concentration you can apply to that kind of comedy is just shredded. You stand there like a piece of machinery—they should get machinery to do it. I loved how it turned out. But it’s not fun to act to a lampstand.”

Following the film, cinematographer Dean Cundey and production designer Rick Carter reunited in 1993 to work on Steven Spielberg’s ‘Jurassic Park,’ which utilized the same ILM computer-generated skin texture for the dinosaurs to great effect.

‘Death Becomes Her’ promises to bring its unique blend of comedy and fantasy to the Broadway stage this fall, offering a fresh take on a cult classic with a stellar cast and creative team.

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