'Empire Records' Broadway Musical Set for 2020

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Liv Tyler in 'Empire Records'

The news was announced in honor of Rex Manning Day (April 8).

Empire Records is coming to Broadway. Producer Bill Weiner has acquired the rights to adapt the 1995 fan-favorite movie into a stage musical.

The film tells the story of teenage employees who work at an independent small-town record store. After learning that a big company is interested in buying out the store, lazy employee Lucas (Rory Cochrane) uses the store’s money to place a bet, hoping that they will raise enough funds to save the beloved music lovers' hub. After his plan fails, the employees become determined to save the store from the sellout corporation. The film starred Liv Tyler, Renee Zellweger, Anthony LaPaglia, Robin Tunney, Ethan Embry and Johnny Whitworth.

Original screenplay writer Carol Heikkinen will pen the musical’s book, while Zoe Sarnak will write the music and lyrics. Sarnak is the winner of this year's Jonathan Larson Grant for emerging composers, named for the creator of Rent.

“As a film, Empire Records captured the hearts of millions of Americans, and I am so excited for Carol’s words and vision to be brought together with Zoe’s incredible music and lyrics. They both have such a passion for the story and its time,” said Weiner in a statement.

“The movie was really about a family that formed among these minimum-wage record clerks,” said Heikkinen. “There’s a lot of nostalgia now for those old record stores where you could go and talk to people who loved the same music you loved, and discover new bands. We hope the musical will capture the memory of what it was like to be young in a time before iTunes and Spotify — music is such an important part of the youth experience, and it’s what brings these characters together.” She added, “Zoe’s the perfect partner for this; the movie was part of her adolescence and she not only gets the music, but the themes of friendship and family. “

“I first saw Empire Records when my older sister brought it home on VHS — I remember sneaking into the TV room while she was watching it with her friends,” said Sarnak. “Over the years, I watched it again and again because that cast — those characters — were my idea of the coolest misfits. Teenagers who loved music as much as I did, and still do. The film’s music so iconically captured the sound of that decade — a sound that has indelibly shaped my own aesthetic.”

Empire Records is expected to debut on Broadway in 2020 to celebrate the film’s 25th anniversary. A director and additional creative team will be announced at a later date.

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