They’re not exactly the von Trapps trilling about edelweiss, but the Robertson family of the reality series “Duck Dynasty” wants to sing to you about faith and food, duck calls and swamp moss. And they’ve convinced a team from Broadway to bring their story to the stage, in Las Vegas for starters.
Undertaking one of the more audacious theater projects in recent years, the Robertsons — known for their long beards, duck-hunting merchandise and occasional inflammatory remark — are moving to expand their Louisiana-based multimedia franchise with “The Duck Commander Family Musical.” The 90-minute show, with actors playing the family members from A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” as they celebrate the family’s long history from rags to riches, hopes to open in February at the Rio hotel and casino, where the Chippendales show and Penn & Teller are now running.
Even before rehearsals start, the show is courting controversy. Several Broadway producers, many of whom are liberal, gay, or both, are aghast that colleagues would work with a family whose patriarch, Phil Robertson, has compared homosexuality to bestiality. Gay rights leaders are also eyeing the show with concern, while evangelical Christians — many of whom admire the Robertsons — might be hesitant to go to a Las Vegas casino and see whether New York artists have fairly rendered the family.
“The show will end up challenging the views and assumptions of people across the political spectrum, more than most theater does,” said Michael David, the Broadway producer who is developing the show and has mounted Broadway hits like “Jersey Boys” and flops like “Good Vibrations.”
“The Robertsons are so unusual, their story so juicy, and theater shouldn’t be limited to telling stories about people you resemble or revere,” added Mr. David, whose long gray beard could make him an honorary Robertson.
Willie Robertson, chief executive of the Duck Commander company, which had $40 million in revenue in 2012 (a fraction of the sales of “Duck Dynasty” merchandise), said in a statement that the show had been “a great ride so far” for the family, which has approval rights over the script and casting.
“We’ve enjoyed the process of making a musical alongside the team who is interested in telling the Robertson family story from an outside perspective,” said Mr. Robertson, whose 2012 book about the family, written with his wife, Korie, is the basis for the musical and the source of its title.
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SOURCE: The New York Times