As BroadwayWorld previously announced, Gerald Goehring, Michael F. Mitri and Dorothy Berloni are developing BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, a new Broadway musical based on the popular 2000 novel by Kate DeCamillo. Casting for a developmental reading is currently underway, with the reading set to take place in early March. This is set to be followed by an out of town engagement and Broadway production, the timing of which will be confirmed at a later date.
The creative team for BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE will include Duncan Sheik (music), Tony and Grammy Award Winner for Spring Awakening; Nell Benjamin (lyrics and book) Tony Nominee for Legally Blonde; John Tartaglia (Director) Tony Nominee for Avenue Q; and, Bill Berloni (Animal Director) a 2011 Tony Honor recipient. Taran, an Irish Wolfhound, has been cast in the title role of “Winn-Dixie,” trained by Broadway’s foremost animal trainer, Bill Berloni.
BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE is the first Broadway musical starring a live dog as the central character. Using a working draft completed by the creative team, the show will be developed in workshop form integrating a live animal into the story and music.
Bill Berloni expressed his inspiration to bring BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE to the stage: “It has always amazed me the reaction animals have on an audience. My theory is we all know anything onstage is an extension of reality. We love when actors go up on lines and become real. We love seeing two partners in real life play characters onstage. So when a dog or cat comes onstage, our collective reality is ‘Wait a minute, you can't get an animal to act, what is it going to do?’ And it brings the audience closer into the piece. While you can create animals as main characters in film, it has never been tried onstage.”
BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE tells the story of lonely young girl who moves to Florida with her preacher father. She goes into the Winn-Dixie supermarket and comes out with a large stray dog who helps her rekindle an almost lost relationship with her father.
Kate DiCamillo’s New York Times best-selling novel was made into a successful film in 2005 with a cast that included Jeff Daniels, Cicely Tyson, Dave Matthews and Eva Marie Saint.
Duncan Sheik (Music) is a multiple Tony-Award winning creator. His musical, Spring Awakening, won a total of 9 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Orchestrations and Best Direction of a Musical. Sheik began his professional career playing for other acts, including Liz and Lisa (with Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell), and played on His Boy Elroy's 1993 album. His 1996 debut album for Atlantic was certified Gold and spawned the #16 hit single "Barely Breathing" in the United States, which remained on the Billboard Hot 100 for a record-setting 55 straight weeks. It also enjoyed lengthy stays on Billboard's Adult Contemporary and Adult Top 40 charts where it reached #2. In 2002, Sheik made a brief commercial comeback with the album Daylight, including success with the singles "On A High" and "Half-Life". Sheik composed original music for a New York Shakespeare Festival production of Twelfth Night, which opened July 21, 2002, at the Delacorte Theater. In 2003, he portrayed Bobby Darin in an episode of the television series "American Dreams". He also composed the score for the 2004 film A Home at the End of the World, including two original songs. His fifth album, White Limousine, was released on January 24, 2006, on the Zoe Records label. The first single released from the album was the title track. The original cast recording album for Spring Awakening, released in December 2006, received the Grammy Award in 2008 for Best Musical Show Album. On January 27, 2009, Duncan released Whisper House, his first new studio album since 2006 and first release under his new deal with RCA Records on their RCA Victor imprint. This marked Duncan's first full length album on a major label since 2002's Daylight. He also composed the music for the Musical adaption of American Psycho.