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Music multihyphenate T Bone Burnett, whose work has spread beyond the recording industry to film and television, will extend his reach to Broadway, having signed on to pen music and lyrics for Happy Trails, the developing bio-musical about the career and lives of Hollywood cowboy couple Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.
Burnett replaces the previously announced team of composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater, who have left the Broadway-bound project due to a scheduling conflict.
Des McAnuff remains on board to direct the musical, which features a book by veteran screenwriter Marshall Brickman. McAnuff and Brickman previously collaborated on the Tony-winning smash Jersey Boys, which celebrates its 10th anniversary on Broadway this weekend.
During a career in entertainment that spanned three decades, from 1945 to 1975, Rogers and Evans made an impact across all media, as film, television, radio and recording stars. Their story — which includes Trigger, the “smartest horse in movies,” and Bullet the Wonder Dog — was also featured in a comic book series that sold over 100 million copies.
Happy Trails will trace Rogers’ journey from a poor childhood in Ohio to Hollywood popularity, and his marriage to singer Evans, which endured through almost impossible obstacles.
Commenting on Burnett’s attachment to the project, lead producer Larry G. Spangler said, “Not only is T Bone a brilliant musical jack-of-all-trades, but he’s also — like Dale Evans was — a Texan through and through. He totally embodies that indefinable spirit of the American West with which Roy and Dale were synonymous.”
In addition to his work as a recording artist and producer, 13-time Grammy winner Burnett is notable for his music contributions to the films of Joel and Ethan Coen, including The Big Lebowski; O Brother, Where Art Thou; and Inside Llewyn Davis — as well as numerous other films such as The Hunger Games, Cold Mountain and Walk the Line. On television, he has served as executive music producer and composer on HBO’s True Detective and on season one of ABC’s Nashville. He won an Oscar in 2010 for best original song for “The Weary Kind,” from Crazy Heart.
Casting and a timeline for Happy Trails are expected to be announced in the coming months.
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