According to The Hollywood Reporter, the classic Shakespearean classic Romeo & Juliet is being revamped into a pop musical that will be entitled Romeo & Juliet: The Pop Musical. The production is being developed for the FOX television network.
Boardwalk Entertainment Group is partnering with RCA Records in order to produce a series of classic stories as event television series and staged musicals. Other classic tales on the list include Robin Hood, King Arthur, and Jack the Ripper. The CAA-repped company founded in 2011 by writer Timothy Bogart, songwriter Evan “Kidd” Bogart, and producer Gary A. Randall, is also looking at developing limited series, live events, specials, and multiple-season series.
Given the success of FOX’s hit television series Glee and NBC’s The Sound of Music Live!, it is not unlikely that this route would prove to be successful as well. Writer Timothy Bogart shared in a statement, “When something works [in Hollywood], there’s always been that rush to figure out how to chase it. Our model is about embracing all facets of the entertainment experience from the creative inception point.”
In conjunction with the production as a way to make extra and immediate ancillary revenue and to differentiate themselves in a crowded market, Boardwalk’s projects will include at least 50 original songs, all of which will be available for download following the episode’s airing. A group of songwriters who have written for major artists such as Britney Spears, One Direction, and Jason Derulo has been assembled by Evan Bogart to accomplish this task.
Evan Bogart shared, “We’re trying to do songs that, if it weren’t for this show, you’d hear on the radio anyway — songs that could be found on an Imagine Dragons album or that Lorde would be singing.” There is also a hope to uncover breakthrough artists in the process. Bogart went on to share that for Romeo & Juliet: The Pop Musical he has assembled a room of songwriters to run alongside a traditional writers room, and the two teams have been passing scripts and accompanying song lyrics back and forth.
Yet, the decision to take such a well known classic and give it the “Glee” treatment, has some concerned that we are devaluing quality literary work for the sake on entertainment purposes. A close friend of mine told me in a discussion on the matter, “Of course you could modernize it and make it more appealing to this generation, but why? The beauty of the story is its age. Its ‘oldness’ so to speak. There are some things this generation has to learn to appreciate for what it is instead of expecting everything to be catered to them.”
Still many people see the potential for success in such a project. WordPress blogger Kate Doran noted a statement made by Baz Luhrmann who in 1996 created a film adaptation of Romeo & Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes that was released by FOX. Luhrmann shared, “I often get people saying, ‘Oh you know, he’s desecrated Shakespeare – the way he’s put pop music in there and I mean one of the things about Shakespeare was that he totally stole popular culture or anything on the streets… but particularly he took popular music and just put it in his shows because that was a way of engaging his audience into the story telling. Every choice we’ve made in terms of cinematic devices has been grounded in some reality of the Elizabethan stage. That has been really our motive on everything we’ve done here.”
The sentiment tends to be shared by Boardwalk as they pursue this and other modernization efforts. More information regarding the project is expected to be released at a later time.