With Rex Manning Day taking place this weekend (Sunday, April 8), fans of the 1995 cult classic Empire Records are thrilled to learn that Broadway producer Bill Weiner has acquired the right to adapt the movie in a musical stage production. Carol Heikkinen, who wrote the film’s original screenplay, will draft the script for the musical, and Zoe Sarnak will develop the music and lyrics.
“As a film, Empire Records captured the hearts of millions of Americans,” Weiner shared in a statement. “I am so excited for Carol’s words and vision to be brought together with Zoe’s incredible music and lyrics. They both have such a passion for the story and its time.”
The movie about a motley crew of record store employees included stars such as Liv Tyler, Renee Zellweger, Anthony LaPaglia, Robin Tunney, Ethan Embry, Rory Cochrane, and Johnny Whitworth. When the gang discovers their independent record store is being sold to a national conglomerate, the employees band together to, “Damn the Man! Save the Empire!”
“The movie was really about a family that formed among these minimum-wage record clerks,” said 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.”
While Empire Records receive little accolades or box office success, the movie became an important part of the 90s culture as young people around the nation rented and shared copies of the iconic film.
“I first saw Empire Records when my older sister brought it home on VHS – I remember sneaking into the TV room while she was watching it with her friends,” commented Sarnak. “Over the years, I watched it again and again because that cast – those characters – were my idea of the coolest misfits. Teenagers who loved music as much as I did, and still do. The film’s music so iconically captured the sound of that decade – a sound that has indelibly shaped my own aesthetic.”
To celebrate the movie’s 25th anniversary, the Empire Records musical is expected to debut on Broadway in 2020.
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