A man, Truman Burbank, learns that the idyllic American suburb of Seahaven, where he’s lived his entire life, is actually a gigantic studio set with hidden cameras everywhere. Since birth, his life has been filmed for the amusement of audiences worldwide. All those he thought were his friends and family were merely actors in The Truman Show—starring himself as the unwitting protagonist.
That’s the premise of screenwriter Andrew Niccol’s acclaimed 1998 film of the same name, with Jim Carrey in the title role. Now it’s being adapted by the Bloomington Playwrights Project (BPP) and is the theater company’s most ambitious production yet: the world premiere of a musical with dynamic sets and a cast of about twenty people.
“We’re pushing our technology to the limit, with projection screens and all kinds of special effects and moving lights,” says Chad Rabinovitz, producing artistic director of BPP, who admits it’s a challenge scaling down the vast environments of the film to fit the stage. One memorable scene in the film involved a storm-tossed boat on the open sea. Rabinovitz hints: “I’ll just say this—the boat’s still in the show!”
The movie was not a musical; this is an innovation for the stage—with the book written by Brad Bauner and Alexander Gemignani. The lyrics were written by Bauner, and the music was composed by Gemignani, best known as a Broadway tenor who has portrayed Jean Valjean in Les Misérables.
“The biggest task when we started was to create a different sound for the world of Seahaven from that of the world outside,” says Gemignani. “Once Brad Bauner and I decided on the bright and cheery energy of the opening number, many things fell into place musically. The outside world, in turn, became more angular and sharp and not as easy to listen to.”
Rabinovitz believes that the premise of The Truman Show is, in fact, more relevant to society today than it was when the film was released. “In 1998,” he says, “reality TV was just getting its grips. Now reality TV has taken over our lives. The story has a lot more resonance. Truman had this perfect world made for him. It’s a question the stage production can delve into—if you had this perfect world, would you want it?”
The show will open on February 1. Click here for more information and tickets.