A stage adaptation of The Pianist, based on the Władysław Szpilman memoir that was the source of the Oscar-nominated 2002 film, is being developed by director Emily Mann with an eye toward Broadway. An industry reading is set for New York City this month with Tony Award winner Santino Fontana (Tootsie) starring as Szpilman.
The project was announced today by producers Robin de Levita Productions, Gorgeous Entertainment, and Wolk Transfer Company. Described as a play with music, The Pianist features an original score by Dutch concert pianist Iris Hond.
The invitation-only industry reading is set for June 23, with Fontana leading a company that includes Richard Topol, Georgia Warner, Claire Beckman, Arielle Goldman, Paul Spera, Addison Finley, Jordan Lage, Robert David Grant and Tina Benko.
The Pianist tells the true story of Szpilman, a survivor of Nazi-occupied Warsaw in World War II. The 2002 film adaptation of Szpilman’s 1946 memoir won Adrien Brody an Oscar for his portrayal of the composer, with Roman Polanski winning Best Director and Ronald Harwood Best Adapted Screenplay.
“The Pianist tells a soaring tale of survival and triumph through music,” says producer Wolk. “It is a riveting story that is fiercely present tense — though it’s set in the past, it shows us that just like today, worlds are destroyed when we demonize each other. And it gives us hope by showing how human connections and the power of music can transcend hate and fear and heal our hearts.”
Producers say the production will feature the first-time theatrical use of “a richly immersive soundscape” enhanced by Atmos Dolby Surround Sound, that allows for surround sound effects, isolating particular parts of an audio track, to be placed in a particular area of a theater. The production team also includes scenic design by Beowulf Boritt and sound design by Mark Bennett.