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Musical Expectations: 'Empire Records' Coming To Broadway
Before American TV audiences discovered "Empire," run by the Lyons, the 1995 cult-classic film Empire Records made its unique mark in American culture's permanent record. Its soundtrack featured GRAMMY nominees the Gin Blossoms' "Til I Hear It From You," among others '90s favs, and its cast showcased rising stars Anthony LaPaglia, Debi Mazar, Liv Tyler, and Renée Zellweger.
Actor Maxwell Caulfield, who had already starred in Grease 2, played sketchy pop star Rex Manning, and the movie's plot takes place over a one-day period as record-store employees deal with his in-store appearance. Based loosely on scribe Carol Heikkinen's personal experiences at Tower Records, the retail staff hatch plans to buy the outlet to prevent it from being acquired by a franchise chain.
As the film's 25th anniversary approaches, Heikkinen, producer Bill Weiner and composer/lyricist Zoe Sarnak discussed their exciting plans, with Rolling Stone, to re-embody its mid-'90s essence into a Broadway musical in 2020.
Of course, it is no coincidence this announcement was made in time for the anniversary of the store's big promotional event — Rex Manning Day on April 8.
"I'm a huge fan of Nineties alt-rock, and it was a really special time when that style intersected with punk, grunge and even pop," said Sarnak, who is a rising star in musical theater herself. "These styles can inform a score that is melodic while still feeling organic, visceral and explosive. Needless to say, this won't be a 'traditional' Broadway score." Sarnak also hinted the Rex Manning pseudo-hit "Say No More, Mon Amour" might make it into the new version.
"I knew we had something when I would tell people about the show and consistently see faces light up," said Weiner. "Everyone has a story, whether it's that they saw the movie 10 times, stole the video cassette from an older sibling or the soundtrack was the first CD they ever purchased."