Friday, April 16, 2010

An ITW debut Musical? Strangely Beautiful indeed!


Hello, thrillers! I'm class of 2009 author Leanna Renee Hieber, author of the Strangely Beautiful saga of Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels. (Dorchester) And I've just scored some pretty interesting news that doesn't happen every day to a mass market paperback writer and I'd like to share with you a bit about this unique process...

As seen 4/14/10 on Publishers' Marketplace:
Report of Option Agreement Sale:
"Musical stage rights to Leanna Renee Hieber’s, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker described as a Victorian “Ghostbusters” about an eerie young woman whose skin is white as snow and the cadre of characters who believe she may be the key to an ancient prophecy, sold to Mt. Clair Entertainment to be adapted by the author with music and lyrics by Kenny Seymour, Jim Abbott and Nicholas Roman Lewis."

Further press details on the option agreement, care of Mt. Clair Entertainment:
"The ghostly, Gothic Victorian fantasy novel The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is heading for the legit musical stage. The author Leanna Renee Hieber will write the book of the musical with music and lyrics by Kenny Seymour (Broadway credits include music direction for Memphis and arrangements for The Wiz) and Nicholas Roman Lewis (creative development for The Alchemist and They Call Me La Lupe) with additional orchestrations and arrangements by Jim Abbott (Wicked, Bombay Dreams, Disney’s Tarzan)."

From agent and creative developer Nicholas Roman Lewis:
"Kenny and I had been looking for a musical project for at least two years. Leanna's book had enthralled me from the moment I first read it as a manuscript so it was literally always on my desk staring at me. I knew this would make a wonderful musical but perhaps slightly daunting, after all, the book is full of ghosts, magic and murder. And then I thought, "the book is full of ghosts, magic and murder...this MUST be a musical." The characters and epic nature of the story lend themselves to song and I knew that Kenny shared my desire to incorporate sweeping cinematic themes with traditional musical theater styles. The icing on the cake is I think every writers dream, a lead character white as snow and strangely beautiful....I think I hear a song."

What's so thrilling for me as the author is that this is the culmination of all my childhood dreams and all of my professional pursuits. I began my first novel when I was 12, a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera because I was obsessed with the show. For me, theatre and books have always gone hand in hand. For the ten years I was active as a professional actress and playwright, I was always writing books. I still do background work in film and television in NYC and remain an active member of AEA, SAG and AFTRA. And yet I couldn't quite have dreamed this confluence of talents and forces; of everything I love and have pursued, all into one project. No matter what happens - as there are worlds of struggle between beginning a show and seeing it come to fruition on any sort of stage - it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

And it couldn't be better timing! My sequel, THE DARKLY LUMINOUS FIGHT FOR PERSEPHONE PARKER - releases April 27th!

I've gotten the questions: 1. How did this come about, and 2. what happens next?

The how: It's all my agent. I signed with him liking the fact that he represented playwrights and had sold film rights. Little did I know I had signed with a theatrical producer as well as an agent - what a lucky break! This possibility to use my work for his next project was clearly in his (and Kenny's) head for a long while before it was brought to me and presented for option sale. And it really took some imagining and faith for the team to say - I think we could do this... Now let's be clear, it's a long and hard, often heartbreaking road from option sale to show. But everything is possible with faith in the project, diligence, flexibility, community and a healthy dose of dreaming big.

So then I'm asked: What happens next? What's the process for something like this?

Now I'm set to storyboard the book. I'll lay down the 'must have' scenes and dialogue from the book. I plan to pick out overarching 'theses statements' from chunks of the book - becoming more intimately acquainted with the broad, overarching themes of my book than ever before. I've already begun thinking about how disparate scenes can bleed together into a flowing, cliff-notes whole. This will be a different product than the book and I have to look at it with an entirely different lens. Challenging but fun to put on different hats. In the meantime the rest of the production team will be going through the book on their own and thinking through their own 'must have' list, each of us respectively brainstorming from our own perspectives of script, lyrics, music, vision. We'll come together within the next couple of months to make sure we're all on the same page, and I turn over my must-have dialgoue for use in lyrics and refrains. And then we'll see something begin to come together, with the hopes that within a year it could go into a workshop production in some festival or regional venue. It needs time to grow and bloom (and gain development and investment) before heading to the Great White Way.

But I'm learning this as I go. And I'll take you all along for the ride if you're as curious as I am to see it unfold! You can join me on the journey on Twitter, Facebook and my blog! Of course, all details on my Website.

Strangely Beautiful blessings!

Leanna Renee Hieber

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