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Broadway tune sets Hollywood feet tapping

London, March 3: The success of Chicago has brought an unfashionable film genre back into the spotlight. Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax film studio believes it has found the perfect encore to Chicago — the revival of another classic musical, Guys and Dolls.

Nearly half-a-century after Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra and Jean Simmons starred in the original screen version, Nicole Kidman and Vin Diesel are being mentioned as possible contenders.

Rumours are sweeping Hollywood that A-list actors are clamouring for parts even before the new script and score surface.

“Actors are emerging who we never knew had good voices or who were capable of dancing,” said Craig Zadan, the executive producer. “They are saying to their agents: ‘Hey, put me in a musical’. It’s just amazing.”

Where once there were yawns at the prospect of another screen musical, the 13 Oscar nominations for Chicago, a Bafta for Catherine Zeta Jones and a Golden Globe for best picture have sparked movie world excitement over what comes next.

Zadan and his partner Neil Meron said they had spent a decade putting Chicago together, and finally proved that Broadway revivals were no longer a niche area. “People who do this sort of thing were previously regarded as wounded children,” said Meron. “This resurgence of interest is all down to Harvey Weinstein. We needed someone to push this.”

The challenge now is to find a perfect voice. Richard Gere, with his background of 1970s pop from work in the Broadway production of Grease, was fine for Chicago. But for the follow-up musical, a star is needed to sing Luck Be A Lady Tonight — and sing it like Sinatra.

The show was a hit on Broadway, opening on Nov 5, 1950, and running for 1,200 performances. But the 1955 film is seen as the definitive version of Damon Runyon’s tale of the “oldest floating crap game” in New York.

So far, only Diesel, action star of The Fast and the Furious and Pte Caparzo in Saving Private Ryan, has publicly spoken of a role. “It would really be fun to do Guys and Dolls with a hard edge, but also to pay homage to the past,” he said.

Kidman, who starred in Moulin Rouge and is noted for her Something Stupid duet with Robbie Williams, would fit the role of Sarah Brown, a Salvation Army girl who becomes the unwitting subject of a bet between the two leading stars about who can get her to fall in love with them first.

Asked about Guys and Dolls, she said: “Yeah, I’m up for it — but I’m up for most things.” However, Colin Vaines, head of European production for Miramax, would not be drawn on casting. Guys and Dolls was still in “final negotiations”, he said.

Chicago had taken $100 million in America and was the company’s biggest ever hit in Britain with a £13 million gross in seven weeks, he said.

“There is a craving for entertainment that is smart, funny and sassy, particularly at a period of uncertainty.”

If Guys and Dolls went into production, he said, it would be an abrasive, edgy film, harking back to the “glory days” of musicals of the 1940s and 1950s. But although Chicago is a hit, these days best picture Oscars are rarely handed out to musicals, the last being in 1968 for Oliver.

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