'Bull Durham' headed for Broadway

“The world I know, Minor League Baseball, there is a certain feel that I think you have to get right,” said former Baltimore Orioles farmhand Ron Shelton.

Of course, a career .253 hitter over five seasons at all levels of the minors, Shelton is familiar with the minor leagues – definitely more so than most of his Hollywood colleagues.

The 70-year-old writer and director has long traded the name on the back of a jersey for one on the back of a chair. Shelton’s Tin Cup, White Men Can’t Jump, Blue Chips and Cobb stand out for sports movie aficionados of the early and mid-1990s. But it is Bull Durham that takes the stage alone for many sports movie cultists.

And wouldn’t you know it, the stage is exactly where Bull Durham is headed – presumably.

“I think (the labs) went extremely well and we’re getting indication that it’s moving forward,” Shelton said.

Bull Durham the musical appears to be headed for Broadway after going through a series of test runs in New York and a developmental production set in Atlanta.

STAYING TRUE TO THE GAME

“There was a look we were going for to capture the minors and say ‘this is not the major leagues,’” Shelton said of the film. “Structurally, a Broadway musical is different than a movie. It is kind of a high-count; scenes have to play out quicker and in shorter version.”

Yes, that means the rustically romantic film framed around a baseball diamond will now feature singing and dancing.

So how does one recreate the low-lit, ragged look of 1980s minor league baseball while positioning oneself under the bright lights of Broadway – and staying true to the classic story that is, of course? It’s a bit of a juggling act.

“We are trying to balance a lot of things,” Shelton said. “Romance, earthiness, bodyness, sexiness, silliness. That’s a lot of plates to keep in the air.”

But make no mistake, even with the song and dance that define a musical, Crash Davis will still be Crash Davis, Ebby Calvin LaLoosh will still be “Nuke” and Annie Savoy will still be true to her character. And yes, the famed bull in the “D” logo will remain.

“We have worked hard so the woman’s voice is strong and the men are men – it’s like the movie,” Shelton said. “There is certainly testosterone in the air, but the women are powerful too.”


Read more at WRAL Sports Fan.


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