T Bone Burnett to write songs for Roy Rogers musical

T-Bone Burnett
FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2013 file photo, T-Bone Burnett, executive music producer of the film "Inside Llewyn Davis," addresses the crowd during a hand and footprint ceremony for cast member John Goodman in Los Angeles. Burnett, known for keeping alive forms of American roots music, replaces the previously announced songwriting team of Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, who were unable to continue on “Happy Trails” due to a scheduling conflict. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Producer, songwriter and musician T Bone Burnett has donned a white hat and jumped in to rescue the score to a musical about American icons Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans.

Burnett, known for keeping alive forms of American roots music, replaces the previously announced songwriting team of Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, who were unable to continue on “Happy Trails” due to a scheduling conflict.

The composer, who grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, seeing the musicals “Showboat,” ”Oklahoma!” ”The Pajama Game” and “Guys and Dolls,” said this week that he’s never had a chance to flex his musical theater chops.

“I have to say it’s frightening and exciting to come into a world that I think I can never live up to,” Burnett said. “I’m glad I’ve waited this long to even to begin to approach it.”

Rogers was a star of television, radio and movies, turning out country music songs, 87 Westerns — 26 of them with Evans — and a 1950s TV series. For 12 years, from 1943 to 1954, the singing cowboy was the No. 1 Western star at the box office in a magazine poll of theater operators.

With his trusty horse Trigger, Rogers played the straight-shooting good guy who always fought fair — instead of killing the bad guys, he would shoot the gun out of their hands — and always lived to sing about it. Rogers died in 1998 at age 86; Evans died in 2001 at 88.

Burnett said the musical will have entirely new music that will be influenced by the 1930s, one of his favorite decades. “There will be some show tunes and there will be some blues tunes. There will be country tunes and there will be folk tunes. There will be all that and there will be other things, too.”

The new musical will feature a story by Academy Award-winner Marshall Brickman (“Annie Hall,” ”Manhattan,” ”The Addams Family”) and direction by two-time Tony Award-winner Des McAnuff (“Jersey Boys,” ”Tommy”). The lead producer is Larry G. Spangler.

Burnett is best known for the Grammy-winning Robert Plant-Alison Krauss CD “Raising Sand” and “O Brother Where Art Thou” soundtrack. He’s collaborated with a diverse group that includes Los Lobos, Elton John, Taylor Swift, Betty Buckley, Roy Orbison and Jeff Bridges. He’s also worked on the “Inside Llewyn Davis” soundtrack and was the music director for the “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” cast album.

A first draft of “Happy Trails” with 16 songs has been written with an eye for Broadway as soon as next year, but Burnett is cautious about jumping into a format that has not always been kind to composers from the rock and pop world.

“I have to say it is daunting to approach this whole thing. I’ve seen many of my friends fly too close to the sun in this area,” he said. “But, I have to say, this has really been the happiest time of my life.”

___

Online: http://www.happytrailsmusical.com

MEDIA GENERAL may allow you to upload, post, transmit or otherwise provide content to MEDIA GENERAL Web sites, including, but not limited to, photos, video, audio, comments, articles, blogs, forums and any other such communication in which you provide content to the Web site ("User Content"). You agree that you are solely responsible for your communications and any content you provide. Read full terms and conditions of use by clicking here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s