A musical without musicians is an untested concept on Broadway. Janet B. Rosen, the freshman lead producer of In Transit, a long-gestating a cappella romantic comedy circling Broadway, says she’s undaunted.
In Transit employs the subway as a setting and plot line and is arranged by Deke Sharon, the arranger and music director of the a cappella movies Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2 (worldwide gross $400 million). A national a cappella tour he oversees, Vocalosity, appears to be selling well. And Kristen Anderson-Lopez — who wrote In Transit with Sara Wordsworth, James Allen-Ford and Russ Kaplan — co-wrote Disney’s Frozen ($1.3 billion). “We are ready to take it to Broadway,” Rosen, who holds the rights to In Transit, told Broadway Journal last night at a concert presentation at Feinstein’s/54 Below. She said it would be Broadway’s first a cappella musical. “A cappella is huge right now.”
I caught a 2004 presentation at the New York Musical Festival — eight years before Pitch Perfect, when In Transit was known as Along the Way. Some of the original songs survived, about the trials of young, ambitious New Yorkers, but the sound last night was richer and more intricate. The cast has expanded to 11 from seven. A highlight was Lindsay Mendez on the frustrations of acting-temping, singing “I do what I don’t really do so I can do what I really do do.” Music ranges from hip-hop to gospel to pop musical theater.
Rosen said a Broadway run would cost $6 million to $7 million, depending on the venue, with weekly operating expenses well below $500,000. She helped enhance a 2010 production off-Broadway at Primary Stages, and is a patron of the Roundabout with her husband, Marvin Rosen, a partner of the law firm GreenbergTaurig. She’s hired Scott Landis as executive producer, and Christopher Gattelli as director, after seeing Silence! The Musical, which he staged in the East Village in 2011. “It had movement and humor, which would add to the production,” she said.
Co-composer Wordsworth said of Rosen: “She loves the show and she believes in it. She hires the right people and she listens to us.”
Anderson-Lopez didn’t attend the concert. Wordsworth said she and her husband, Bobby Lopez, are in Los Angeles working on the Broadway adaptation of Frozen, which is scheduled to open here in the spring of 2018 and will include new songs. (The movie Frozen 2 is also in the works.) “Disney has her on such a tight schedule,” Wordsworth said, adding that Anderson-Lopez has been an active collaborator.
In Transit could transfer within four months, Rosen said, real estate permitting. She said she’s optimistic she’ll land a theater, even though she was told some 40 shows are waiting. She said she’s unfazed by the track record of first-time producers. “I don’t give up until I get what I want,” she said. “This is a new thing for Broadway. It’s not the ‘same old, same old.'”