Richard Linklater to Adapt Stephen Sondheim Musical with Beanie Feldstein and Ben Platt

Richard Linklater

Richard Linklater is reportedly cooking up a new project akin to his 2014 twelve-year project “Boyhood.” Sources say the director is working on an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s highly acclaimed musical, “Merrily We Roll Along.” The musical itself is based on the 1934 play written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. Beanie Feldstein (“Booksmart”) and Ben Platt (“Dear Evan Hansen”) are in talks to star.

Collider published the exclusive Thursday afternoon. Below is the information they have gathered on the project:

Linklater’s longtime collaborator Ginger Sledge is producing the ambitious project, and sources say that Jason Blum and his Blumhouse banner are also involved.

The play takes place over the course of 20 years, and sources say that Linklater plans to stay true to that timeline. Representatives for Linklater, Platt, Feldstein and Blumhouse did not respond to requests for comment.

The story in “Merrily We Roll Along” follows an established theatre composer, Franklin Shephard (Platt) who decides to abandon his unfulfilling New York life to produce films in Los Angeles. Feldstein is set to star opposite Platt as Franklin’s best friend and theater critic, Mary Flynn.

(left to right) Beanie Feldstein and Ben Platt
(SPACE/REX/Shutterstock-(Charles Sykes/Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

The article also reports the film will be shot in reverse chronological order, “as the play and musical end when the characters are in their mid-20s and just embarking on their entertainment careers.” The story will be told in reverse, unfolding the lives of its characters over the course of two decades. This makes things interesting for the filmmaker, who is no stranger to maneuvering this time structure to work with.

Linklater is a five-time Academy Award nominated director. His 2014 coming-of-age film “Boyhood,” was an experimental jump for the filmmaker, rallying his cast and crew to film the story over the span of 12 years. Each year, production would reteam to film footage during one month and regroup the following year to create the film’s unique timeline of one boy growing up through parental divorce, school and life. The film carried critical impact as it was later nominated at the 2015 Oscars ceremony for original screenplay, directing, best picture, and its winning honor for Patricia Arquette’s supporting role.

Ellar Coltrane and Richard Linklater on the set of “Boyhood”

Linklater other titles include the cult classic “Dazed and Confused,” “School of Rock,” “Waking Life,” “Slacker” and the adored “Before” Trilogy starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. His latter two installments to the trilogy were both nominated for Adapted Screenplay.

His latest, the adaptation of the best-selling novel “Where’d You Go Bernadette,” stars Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and is currently playing in theaters. More developments on Linklater’s announced project are expected as production nears.

What do you think of Richard Linklater diving into another multi-year feature project? Could it critically pay off like “Boyhood” did? Comment below!

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