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One of William Shakespeare’s most enduring comedies may soon find itself on television, with a contemporary twist. Amazon is developing a musical series inspired by Twelfth Night, one that swaps the play’s central storyline of mistaken identity for gender fluidity.
The untitled project, written by Spring Awakening’s Tony-winning writer Steven Sater and Insatiable showrunner Lauren Gussis, is described as a complicated love story between a young man and biological young woman. The latter, over the course of the series, begins to identify as gender-fluid.
“In order to hold on to the love of his life, our young male hero writes an original musical version of Twelfth Night for his beloved to star in and perform over winter break,” reads the logline. “But they’re not alone. A group of college kids find themselves sequestered on an empty snowbound campus — and when the magic of the play kicks in, everyone involved ends up exploring every manner of sexuality and gender identity.”
It marks a reunion between Sater and his Spring Awakening songwriter Duncan Sheik, who is attached to co-write the songs in the pilot.
The project has a deep bench of producers, with Ryan Seacrest Productions on board the CBS Television Studios and Amazon Studios effort. In addition to Sater and Gussis, executive producers include Nina Wass and Ryan Seacrest, as well as pilot director Marc Webb.
Shakespeare, both as an individual and IP engine, remains a source of inspiration for film some 400 years after his death, but a TV spin is relatively uncommon. The same goes for the musical premise. Many have taken swings at serialized musicals over the years, but there have been few Glees and Crazy Ex-Girlfriends that manage to cut through the clutter.
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