Amanda Green

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

By Robert Hofler

'Q' troupe cues 'Fidelity' tuner
Producing team expects to workshop production in 2005

NEW YORK -- The producers of "Avenue Q" are looking to a follow-up project: a musical version of "High Fidelity."

Robyn Goodman, Kevin McCollum and Jeffrey Seller have acquired the rights from Disney to the Nick Hornby novel and the Stepehn Frears-directed film.

Story of a record store owner who recounts his romantic breakups will be brought to the stage by playwright David Lindasay-Abaire, composer Tom Kitt and lyricist Amanda Green.

John Cusack starred in Frears' 2000 film version, which shifted Hornby's London setting to Chicago. For the tuner incarnation, the record shop moves again -- to New York.

"We don't know Chicago," said Lindsay-Abaire, author of "Fuddy Meers." "Nick Hornby said the best adaptations are when you make it your own."

Kitt and Green came up with the idea to turn "High Fidelity" into a stage musical.

After writing a few songs on spec and performing them in their cabaret act, the duo got Disney to agree to the project. "At least in the ether, if not on paper," explained Green, daughter of theater legend Adolph Green.

The tuner world is small. Green knew the "Avenue Q" producers from having performed in the show's early workshops, playing the Gary Coleman character. Goodman and Lindsay-Abaire have been at work on a musical version of the "Betty Boop" cartoon.

All three creatives are repped by John Buzzetti at the Gersh Agency.

Green said "High Fidelity" lent itself to musical treatment. "The book is about people who live in a pop-music world and are obsessed with pop music." "The hero's life is a soundtrack," said Kitt, "and the big moments are songs."

According to Green, the tuner will use elements of both the novel and film.

Goodman said the producing team expected to workshop "High Fidelity" in summer 2005 but had not yet decided on its development route. "Avenue Q" came to Broadway under their producer tutelage by playing such nonprofit venues as the O'Neill Playwrights Conference, the Vineyard Theater and the New Group.

Before "High Fidelity" rocks, Goodman and producer Ken Davenport will unveil musical revue "Altar Boyz" at the New York Musical Theater in September.

"Rent" producers McCollum and Seller begin previews in November of "White Christmas" at San Francisco's Curran Theater.