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'Animal House' Musical Heads to Broadway With Barenaked Ladies

Universal Pictures Stage Productions is developing the 1978 John Belushi comedy for stage, with Casey Nicholaw ("The Book of Mormon") on board as director-choreographer, and the "One Week" band composing the original score.

NEW YORK -- It's toga-party time on Broadway.

A classic of the gross-out comedy genre, the 1978 John Landis feature National Lampoon's Animal House will join the long list of movie hits being retooled as theatrical musicals. Universal Pictures Stage Productions announced development of the project Monday.

The show will have an original score by Canadian alt-rockers Barenaked Ladies and a book by playwright Michael Mitnick, based on the screenplay by Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney and Chris Miller. Casey Nicholaw, a Tony Award winner for The Book of Mormon, has signed on as director and choreographer.

Universal has had major stage successes on Broadway and internationally with its properties Wicked and Billy Elliot: The Musical and is producing the national tour of Bring It On: The Musical. The studio's theatrical division also has served as a Broadway producer on The Merchant of Venice, with Al Pacino, and on the current production of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess. On both those latter ventures, Universal has collaborated with producers Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel, who are partnering on Animal House

Also on board as producer is James L. Nederlander, president of theater group the Nederlander Organization. National Lampoon founding publisher Matty Simmons, who was a producer (with Ivan Reitman) of the 1978 feature, will serve as executive producer on the stage project.

Set in 1962, the Landis comedy chronicled the efforts of a college dean to expel the disreputable Delta fraternity from his campus for repeat conduct violations and poor grades, using the squeaky-clean Omega boys to implement his plan. But the party animals proved no easy prey, responding with a counter-attack that culminated in the sabotaging of Faber College's annual homecoming parade.

The movie starred John Belushi, Tom Hulce, Stephen Furst, Tim Matheson, Peter Riegert, Karen Allen, John Vernon, Donald Sutherland and Kevin Bacon, in his first film role. It was budgeted at a mere $2.7 million and went on to gross $141.6 million domestically.

No cast, dates or venue have been set for the developing musical.

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