A movie based on the Tony-winning Broadway musical The Drowsy Chaperone is being developed as a Canadian-Australian co-production.

Geoffrey Rush, who played the character known as Man in the Chair in the Australian stage production, is set to reprise the role in the film, which will be directed by Fred Schepisi.

A tongue-in-cheek tribute to the golden era of Broadway musicals, Cole Porter and George and Ira Gershwin, the plot sees a musical literally bursting to life in the man’s living room, telling the rambunctious tale of a brazen Broadway starlet trying to find, and keep, her true love.

The lead Canadian producer is Rhombus Media’s Niv Fichman, whose credits include Silk, Enemy, Blindness, The Red Violin and Antiviral.

Aussie producer Antonia Barnard has confirmed her involvement “in the early stages.” Also aboard is producer Raquelle David, who spent six months with Fichman in Toronto last year developing the project, supported by Screen Australia's talent escalator program.

David is now working with Barnard in helping to finance and structure the co-production. The tentative plan is to shoot in Toronto, with post in Australia, next year.

Barnard's credits include Backtrack, Tracks (as co-producer), A Few Best Men, Last Ride and TV's Devil's Dust.

The book of the musical was written by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, with music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. The original 2006 Broadway production received Tony Awards for best book, original score, featured actress, scenic design and costume design and ran for nearly a year and a half on Broadway.

Musical theatre company Squabbalogic staged the show in in association with the Hayes Theatre Co. in Sydney from March 14 to April 6.

Earlier reports indicated Rush will executive produce the film. According to Entertainment Weekly, Hugh Jackman is circling the role of vain Latin lover Adolpho.

“I loved the original production on Broadway — incredibly funny and terrific, great fun,” Jackman told EW last November. “I was not sure how that would translate [to film], but the script at the moment is wonderful. I think they’re trying to put the movie together, I don’t think it’s fully together yet, but they are talking to me about it, and I’m very interested in it.”

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