The Broadway-aimed Some Like It Hot is still chugging along during the pandemic, adding another writer to its creative team. Writer and comedian Amber Ruffin will now pen the book to the new musical adaptation, joining the previously reported Matthew López (currently Tony-nominated for The Inheritance).
The creative team also includes songwriting duo Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (who previously musicalized the creation of the 1959 MGM film in "Let's Be Bad" from the fictional Smash musical Bombshell) and director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw.
The musical now aims to premiere on Broadway in 2022. In the early months of the coronavirus shutdown, producers Neil Meron (also a Smash veteran) and Bob Wankel (of the Shubert Organization) announced that the show would scrap its previously announced out-of-town tryout in Chicago (originally slated to begin this March) and open directly in New York in the fall.
Ruffin’s involvement signals a departure from the Billy Wilder source material, resulting in a new take that the writer calls “honestly groundbreaking.” The character of Sugar—portrayed in the film by Marilyn Monroe—will be reworked as Black, with her racial identity providing more than an opportunity for color-blind casting.
“It is an exciting proposition to create a show with characters whose race is instrumental and not incidental to the story,” López says. “It became apparent to me that if we were to honor our commitment to tell that story with honesty and integrity, it required a Black creative voice on the team. It didn’t take long for all of us to agree that Amber was the person to approach.”
Inspired by the French film Fanfare of Love, Some Like It Hot follows two Prohibition-era jazz musicians in Chicago (played on screen by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon), who witness a mob hit and go into hiding by disguising themselves as members of an all-female band. Through their escape plot, the two become enamored with the band's singer and ukulele player, Sugar (Marilyn Monroe). Incidentally, that character became the namesake for a previous Broadway adaptation of the comedy: the 1972 musical Sugar.
Ruffin is currently host, writer, and executive producer of The Amber Ruffin Show on the NBC streaming platform Peacock. She concurrently remains on the writing team on Late Night With Seth Meyers (becoming the first Black woman to write for a late-night network talk show), for which she earned an Emmy nomination. Her additional credits include Detroiters, Drunk History, and A Black Lady Sketch Show. She recently published her book You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories of Racism, co-written with her sister Lacey Lamar.
Also boarding the project as a producer is Tony-winning director Kenny Leon. Rounding out the team are Roy Furman, Robert Greenblatt, and the Nederlander Organization.