If the first thing you think of when you look at Duck Commander Phil Robertson's long shaggy beard is "boy, that would make some great musical theater," well, you're not alone.
The same production company behind the hit show "Jersey Boys" is in talks with the Rio casino in Las Vegas to launch a musical based on Willie and Korie Robertson's biographical book. The family is not performing — actors will play all the roles — but it sounds like they are involved at some level, at least. According to the New York Times, Willie put out a statement that said the show has been "a great ride so far" and that the family has approval rights over the script and casting. "We've enjoyed the process of making a musical alongside the team who is interested in telling the Robertson family story from an outside perspective," he is quoted as saying.
The article in the Times notes the following concerns and quotes:
Even before rehearsals start, the show is courting controversy. Several Broadway producers, many of whom are liberal, gay, or both, are aghast that colleagues would work with a family whose patriarch, Phil Robertson, has compared homosexuality to bestiality. Gay rights leaders are also eyeing the show with concern, while evangelical Christians — many of whom admire the Robertsons — might be hesitant to go to a Las Vegas casino and see whether New York artists have fairly rendered the family.
“The show will end up challenging the views and assumptions of people across the political spectrum, more than most theater does,” said Michael David, the Broadway producer who is developing the show and has mounted Broadway hits like “Jersey Boys” and flops like “Good Vibrations.”
The show is expected to feature video of the real Robertsons and duck hunting, interspersed among family anecdotes and a 14-song score that mixes country, blues and show tunes. The likely opening number is “Faith, Food, and Family.”
“I think the expectation is that it’ll be all chicken-pickin’ stuff and banjos, but what we’re trying to do is pull out as much heart, humor and sincerity as we can to keep people surprised,” Mr. Morris said.
Many questions remain. How big is the audience for a show like this in a city like Vegas? Has America tired of the Duck Dynasty phenomenon? Will the actors grow real beards or wear fakes? Who could possibly have the swagger to play a character like Uncle Si?
The show is tentatively scheduled to premier in spring 2015.