LAS VEGAS – It’s all seemed like one big unlikely mashup: the deep South, God-fearing family of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” turning their tale into a song and dance musical on stage in Sin City.
Even Broadway producer Michael David has been on the receiving end of inevitable surprise and, sometimes, concern when people learned of his involvement in the “Duck Commander Musical.”
What were thespian blue staters doing getting involved with duck-hunting entrepreneurs from a decidedly red state? Especially duck-hunting entrepreneurs whose patriarch has been quoted vilifying homosexual behavior.
“If theater people are storytellers, God knows we don’t only tell stories about people we agree with,” David said.
The man behind the musical “Jersey Boys,” his Dodgers Theatricals group and music executive Tommy Mottola teamed up with the “Ducks” to bridge two unlikely worlds.
There will certainly be beards. And the usual family antics seen on the show. But there will be no do-si-doing around any of the controversy involving the family on “Duck Dynasty,” cable’s highest-rated reality show.
The good, the bad and the in-between are all said to be part of the 90-minute retelling of the Robertson family’s rags-to-riches story, performed in a theater inside the Rio hotel and casino starting April 15.
There will be eight performances a week, and tickets are expected to cost $49 to $125.
The musical will feature actors playing the Robertsons. It’s based on the 2012 book by Willie Robertson and wife, Korie, titled “The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks Built a Dynasty.”
“If we do it right,” the show will be foot-stomping fun, but insightful and moving too, David said.
The unlikely involvements all started with Willie Robertson’s agent, who saw a Broadway tale in his book and linked up Willie with a few of her other clients – Broadway composers and lyricists Robert and Steven Morris and Joe Shane.
David and Mottola had wanted to work with the composing team, which was behind the musical “White Noise,” whatever their next project may be.
“Who knew this was the answer? This was not exactly what we expected,” David said of learning the “Duck Commander Musical” was next in line.
The Robertson family’s public image has suffered since patriarch Phil Robertson commented about homosexuality and sin in an early 2014 magazine profile, and occasionally since, leading to a backlash and brief suspension of their popular reality show. And it prompted Willie Robertson to travel to New York to talk it through with the people involved in the family’s musical, knowing some are gay.
Willie wanted to assure everyone that the rest of the family wasn’t “tarred with Phil,” David said.
How the family talked through it is apparently all in the show.
“It’s a powerful scene,” Willie Robertson said. “That’s where it gets super deep and heavy.”
David, for one, said he’s never spoken to Phil Robertson but trusts that “as much as I was offended by some of what Phil said,” it’s not what defines him entirely.
“There’s a real story here,” David said. “This is, in anyone’s book I think, a remarkable story about a fascinating American family,” one that happens to be complicated “and for some, controversial.”