Sondheim told The Public Theater, which had workshopped the musical in 2016 with plans for a 2017 opening, that he is no longer developing the new work, his first new musical since he and John Weidman opened Road Show in 2008, also at the Public.
Producer Scott Rudin, currently under fire following allegations of longstanding physical and emotional abuse and intimidation, had been attached to Buñuel, but the cancellation was not based on that recent news.
Buñuel, Sondheim previously revealed, is in two acts, the first based on Spanish director Luis Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), the second on his The Exterminating Angel (1962), both set at surreal dinner parties. The musical, Sondheim said, is about “trying to find a place to have dinner.” The first deals with interruptions to dinner, the second is about “people who have dinner and can’t leave,” which “is my cheerful view of the world today.”
In November 2016, it was reported that Tony winner director Joe Mantello had joined the creative team as director.
Tony winner Michael Cerveris, who had been part of the 2016 Public Theater workshop, told the Times that while the first act of the musical was nearly complete, the second was “sketched out, but still awaiting much of the music.”
“It was an appropriately surreal, unnerving, and often hilarious piece,” he added. “And Steve was, as ever, experimenting with some fascinating, complex musical structures which David’s sensibilities seemed to suit really well, I thought.…The marriage with Buñuel felt pretty right for the times, and the world has only gotten darker and weirder since then.
“I’d have loved to see it come to be. But then, I will always want more Sondheim in the world.”