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Musical of 'First Wives Club' heads to Broadway

Monday - 6/30/2014, 4:50pm  ET

This film poster released by Paramount Pictures shows Bette Midler, from left, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton, the cast of "The First Wives Club." Revenge will be in the air in a few years when a musical version of “The First Wives Club” comes calling on Broadway. The comedy about a trio of vengeful ex-spouses has been revamped and rewritten for the stage by Emmy Award-nominee Linda Bloodworth Thomason, the writer and producer of such TV shows as “Designing Women” and “Evening Shade.” The musical will make its debut at Chicago’s Oriental Theater in Spring 2015, with hopes it can come to Broadway in the 2015-2016 season. (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures)

MARK KENNEDY
AP Drama Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Revenge will be in the air in a few years when a musical version of "The First Wives Club" comes calling on Broadway.

The comedy about a trio of vengeful ex-spouses has been revamped and rewritten for the stage by Emmy Award-nominee Linda Bloodworth Thomason, the writer and producer of such TV shows as "Designing Women" and "Evening Shade."

The musical will make its debut at Chicago's Oriental Theater next spring, with hopes it can come to Broadway in the 2015-2016 season.

The 1996 film "The First Wives Club," starring Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton, was based on Olivia Goldsmith's novel about three women who are dumped by their powerful husbands for slim, young trophy wives. The first wives band together and take back their lives in style.

"One of the reasons I agreed to do it was the feisty feminist, 'Designing Women' side that Olivier created with her book," said Bloodworth Thomason. "It was the same DNA as 'Designing Women.'"

The story was first made into a musical with a story by Rupert Holmes that debuted in 2009 at the Old Globe in San Diego, but never made the expected jump to Broadway. It will now, thanks to Bloodworth Thomason, who produced the film "The Man From Hope," a campaign biography of Bill Clinton, and directed the new documentary "Bridegroom."

Bloodworth Thomason said she was given the freedom to rip up the old script and write her own. "They said, 'Write whatever you want.' So I've just had a ball,' she said. "You're going to hear a lot of different dialogue, and there will be some new characters in it. It's a whole new ballgame."

The director will be Simon Phillips (who helmed "Love Never Dies" and "Priscilla Queen of the Desert") and the songs -- both original music and classics -- will be supplied by Motown legends Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian Holland and Eddie Holland, who are behind such hits as "Stop in the Name of Love" and "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)."

"It just turned out to be a big, lovely valentine that was laid in my lap," said Bloodworth Thomason, who will be making her Broadway debut as a book writer. But like most of her projects, "The First Wives Club" will be about more than humor. "I so wanted an opportunity to do a show that stands as an antidote to the Kardashian culture. I like to say about this that we're promoting big mouths instead of big asses."

The new musical is only one of two new projects Bloodworth Thomason hopes to bring to Broadway. She and producer Elizabeth Williams, who also is steering "The First Wives Club," are working on another show but won't reveal many details. She said she's not afraid of failure.

"Listen, I'm perfectly aware of the concept of falling on your face. I've done it on many occasions. That doesn't scare me because I'll just get back up and start over," Bloodworth Thomason said. "I'm still a novice, so we'll see what happens. It's a tough place to go but I'm anxious to get there."

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Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits


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