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‘Big River’ Movie Adaptation in the Works From ‘Chicken and Biscuits’ Writer Douglas Lyons (EXCLUSIVE)

Douglas Lyons, the writer of “Chicken and Biscuits,” is adapting “Big River” as a film. The show, which features music influenced by country and gospel, is based on Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” It opened on Broadway in 1985 and won seven Tony awards, including best musical, and seven Drama Desk awards.

“It is my deepest honor to adapt this beloved Broadway classic for the big screen,” Lyons said. “With its legendary score and moving tale, ‘Big River’ invites us all to remember there’s more beauty in humanity than hate.”

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“Big River” is being developed in partnership with Mary Miller and William Hauptman, as well as by the musical’s original producer Rocco Landesman, Emily Baer and Jason Seagraves under his Prod Co. banner. “Chicken and Biscuits” opened on Broadway in 2021 at the Circle in the Square Theatre.

“Big River” follows Huck and Jim as they race down the mighty Mississippi to secure Jim’s freedom. Lyons will reimagine the story so that it centers on the perspectives of both Jim and Huck, instead of just focusing on Huck’s story. The musical features songs such as “Free at Last,” “Muddy Water” and “World’s Apart.” The show’s hit song “River in the Rain” reached No. 36 on the U.S. country music charts and has been re-recorded by Alison Krauss.

Landesman conceived of the idea of adapting Twain’s novel for the stage and persuaded Roger Miller, an 11-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, to write the music and William Hauptman to write the book. The show was a box office hit, running for 1,005 performances, and was revived on Broadway in 2003 by Deaf West Theatre, going on to win another Tony in 2004. Landesman believes Lyons has found a fresh way to tell the story.

“Douglas has taken the greatest American novel of all time and made it relevant to our time,” Landesman said in a statement.

Following “Big River,” Landesman went on to be president and owner of Jujamcyn Theatres and produced numerous Broadway hits, including “The Producers,” “Into the Woods,” “Angels in America” and “Jersey Boys.” He was later appointed Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts by President Obama.

Lyons earned a GLAAD nomination for “Chicken and Biscuits.” He served as a writer on both seasons of Apple TV’s Emmy-winning series “Fraggle Rock.” His musicals include “Polkadots” (Atlantic Theater Company), “Beau” (Adirondack Theatre Festival), “Breathe” (Audible), “The Moon and The Sea” (Constellation Stage) and the world premiere of “Five Points” (Theater Latté Da). Lyons is currently developing television with Sky Dance, Stoopid Buddy Stoodios and Ryan Reynolds’ Maximum Effort. His Broadway acting credits include the “Book of Mormon,” “Beautiful” and “Parade.” Lyons has also toured in “Rent,” “Dreamgirls” and “Book of Mormon.”

Lyons is repped by WME, Grandview, and CLA Partners.

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