Obie-winning director Trip Cullman (Choir Boy, Lobby Hero) helms an industry reading of the Broadway-aimed Empire Records: The Musical, based on the cult-hit film, December 7 at Roundabout Studios in Manhattan.
The cast features Tony nominee Kathryn Gallagher (Jagged Little Pill), Drew Gehling (Waitress), Drama Desk nominee Rebecca Naomi Jones (Oklahoma!), Lorna Courtney (Dear Evan Hansen), Hilary Fisher (Cyrano), Ilan Eshkenazi (Sing Street), Brody Grant, De’Lon Grant (Come From Away), Veronica Otim (Jagged Little Pill), J Daughtry (Ain’t Too Proud), Sam Poon (Sing Street), Eric Weigand (Plaza Suite), Gabe Violett (Spring Awakening), and Ashley Perez Flanagan (Freestyle Love Supreme).
Empire Records has music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson Grant winner Zoe Sarnak, and a book by the film’s screenwriter, Carol Heikkinen.
The musical is set in Empire Records, the last of the independent small-town record stores. Hearing that the shop may be sold to a big chain, slacker employee Lucas places a big bet with a chunk of the store’s money, hoping to get a big return and save the store.
The reading also has music direction by Grammy nominee Bryan Perri, casting by Stephen Kopel and Carrie Gardner, and stage management by Narda E. Alcorn.
Released in 1995 by New Regency, the Empire Records film starred Liv Tyler, Renée Zellweger, Anthony LaPaglia, Robin Tunney, Rory Cochrane, Ethan Embry, and Johnny Whitworth and was directed by Allan Moyle.
“The movie was really about a family that formed among these minimum-wage record clerks,” says Heikkinen. “There’s a lot of nostalgia now for those old record stores where you could go and talk to people who loved the same music you loved and discover new bands. We hope the musical will capture the memory of what it was like to be young in a time before iTunes and Spotify—music is such an important part of the youth experience, and it’s what brings these characters together. Zoe’s the perfect partner for this; the movie was part of her adolescence, and she not only gets the music, but the themes of friendship and family.”
Bill Weiner produces. The musical adaptation was first announced in 2018.